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Digital Intellectual Property Theft

Digital intellectual property theft is using the Internet to steal another’s ideas, concepts, or work.

Hacker Attack Word Cloud Downloading, transferring files, hacking, and pirating media and audio clips that are copyright and trademark protected are criminal offenses. Government agencies take these crimes seriously and have designated special task forces to monitor and disassemble offenses.

In today’s digital age, we have unlimited access to almost any type of information. If we want information on a particular topic, we do a quick search and within seconds we have information.

Although the Internet has resulted in astounding and elaborate changes to modern culture, it has also brought with it a vast medium that is constantly changing. By the time we understand one program, a newer version is already in use. Some of these newer versions are designed to be more effective and convenient. For instance, antivirus software is routinely upgraded to better protect our computers from hazardous bugs and viruses. These programs keep us safe from hackers—tech-savvy individuals or groups that develop programs to infiltrate computer systems.


In 2009, the most commonly hacked websites were social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and retail, media, and technology sites. Computer hacking is a form of cybercrime. Hackers use their knowledge of computer codes to gain access to or install harmful software on computers or phones. These computer-savvy criminals always seem to be one step ahead of the curve and treat their criminal activity like a real job.

Hackers could use your information to impersonate you and attempt to have your friends or family members provide more personal information about you. This is why it is extremely important to keep the personal information you post online to a minimum. You can protect yourself from hackers by enabling privacy settings. Make sure your privacy settings are at the highest preferences possible and that you never use the default settings.


Piracy is the illegal downloading of copyrighted materials from the Internet. Music piracy is one of the biggest forms of piracy. A 2013 study done by the Institute for Policy Innovation found that the U.S. economy loses $12.5 billion, 70,000 jobs, and $2 billion in wages to American workers per year because of individuals downloading pirated music. These numbers don’t include damages caused by pirated movies and books.1

Piracy doesn’t just occur through an electronic transfer. Illegally selling or distributing DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and CDs is also a federal offense. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) posts an announcement at the beginning of all movies warning of the consequences of pirating material. Those convicted of unauthorized use of copyrighted materials face fines as high as $250,000 and jail terms as long as five years.

1 Siwek, S.E. (2007). The true cost of sound recording piracy to the U.S. economy. Institute for Policy Innovation Policy Report 188.

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