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What Does Piracy Mean?

Piracy is the unauthorized distribution, theft, reproduction, copying, performance, storage, sale or other use of intellectual property (IP) protected under copyright law. It is a form of copyright infringement.
A 200-year-old U.S. Supreme Court term, piracy was first applied to the plundering of intellectual property (IP) in the mid-17th century. The term is derived from the Latin pirata, derived from the Greek peirates, which means “sea robber.”


Techopedia Explains Piracy

In computing, software piracy is a global issue. Because software development requires a large financial investment, software companies rely on profits to continue improving and building software. When a software program is illegally copied, downloaded and/or installed, a pirate commits an act of theft.
An entity that engages in piracy or piratical activity is known as a pirate. Pirates engage in any of the following activities:

Illegally using, distributing or copying software
Illegally uploading or downloading online music
Building an online business based on theft
Encouraging others to break the law
Manufacturing counterfeit CDs, which are sold in retail stores, flea markets, swap meets or street corners


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.