The Cost of Piracy

13Mar05

A story by Daniel Engber from Slate talked about how much pirated songs or movies actually cost. A University of Arizona student was fined $5,400 for having $50,000,000 worth of pirated materials in his computer and distributing them on the net.

Fifty million dollars worth of songs or movies in a hard drive? It sound ludricous but Daniel Engber explains how investigators reached this number.

As he explains, if a song cost $0.99 in iTunes or movies cost $20 in Amazon.com then the total number of songs and movies in the computer would be 50.5 million or 2.5 million, respectively. This means hundreds of terabytes worth of data which by itself would be impossible since the perpetuator was just a kid in university.

But the law in the United States concerning piracy and its rules and implementations calculate the worth of pirated songs differently. Damages for each song, movie or album can be as high as $150,000. So, in this case, the $50 million amounts to 30 to 40 pirated albums.

The final sentence of the University of College student was according to state laws which convicted the student for the number of songs not the value. According to the state law he was convicted of a felony engaging in “unlawful copying” of between 10 to 1,000 songs or 10 to 100 movies.

I wonder if any case like this would ever prosper in here. I doubt it.

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