Piracy: A Matter of Life or Death

Stephen Yagielowicz
Recently, Washington Post military correspondent Tom Ricks reported on the problem of a "porno virus" being spread by both American and Iraqi military personnel that have obtained and are now trading illegally copied DVDs – a situation which I briefly expanded upon in an XBIZ News story entitled "Is Bootleg Porn Threatening National Security?"

When covering malicious software attacks of any kind, it's important to strike a balance between covering the facts of the story without revealing details that might be useful to budding hackers — and this piece was no exception — and while I don't want to give bad ideas to the wrong people, it's important that these threats be identified so that they can be addressed and resolved.

Having said that, there's an additional dimension to the story that I'd like to share with you here, which deals with the issue of content piracy, as I reprint below the comment I left about Ricks' piece on the Washington Post website:

"This is an example of the widespread and diverse nature of the problems resulting from the illegal duplication and dissemination of copyrighted intellectual property — in this case, adult entertainment.

While the financial impact of piracy and content theft on the legitimate adult entertainment industry is conservatively estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars annually, the security threat posed by the rampant trade in unauthorized DVDs and the malicious payloads these bootleg materials may carry, such as Trojans, key loggers and other malware that could gain access to, and transmit to its creators, sensitive information with direct military value, is incalculable.

The price of copyright violation and content theft can indeed be greater than a simple financial loss for the material's producers. In this case, it can cost lives.

This isn't a "porn" issue; it's one of theft and national security.

When America's fighting soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are not allowed to purchase legitimate, licensed adult entertainment materials on-base, this situation is bound to occur — and the consequences might be disastrous."


While the industry struggles with the impact of piracy on our bottom lines, it's important for us to remember that there are other, far more important costs to this digital scourage.