Not all pirates are the romanticized high-seas pillagers of yesteryear. Nor are they sports teams from Pittsburgh or Tampa Bay. There are plenty of people on the outside of the system looking in, trying to circumvent the laws of the day, that you might not consider to be prates, but they very much are.
10. Internet Content Thieves
Whether you like my articles or not, I try to pride myself on originality. Sadly, there’s apparently an entire market for those who copy, and then replicate, internet content while claiming it as their own. These are the pirates of the Internet, and there are way too many of them.
When Internet pirates are caught, punishment can be severe. Take the tragic case of Aaron Swartz. The co-founder of the internet company Infogami, Swartz was a type of modern-day Robin Hood. He was being prosecuted by the government for theft of academic articles, which he then posted online. His justification was that colleges and universities are public institutions which are partially funded by the government, so the articles that they publish should be free and readily available to their students. Swartz committed suicide in January of 2013, facing over $1 million in fines, plus 35 years in prison.
9. Software Pirates
This is a level of piracy so wide-spread that most don’t even consider it a crime. Stealing software, such as Photoshop, the latest Windows, Norton Antivirus, etc. adds up to over $63 billion in lost revenue per year, and over half of people polled openly admit to pirating software at least some of the time.
8. Cigarette Smugglers
According to the CDC, tobacco usage is responsible for one in every five deaths in the United States alone. If you use tobacco, you are going to live 13 to 14 years less than a non-smoker. I could go on and on but, unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last generation, you already know all about the dangers of cigarettes.
Despite these facts, cigarettes are still legal in the US but, because of differing tax rates in different states, over $10 billion in tax revenue has been lost to people buying cheap cigarettes, taking them across state lines, and then re-selling them, thus creating a cigarette black market. The government is not happy about this at all because, as we all know, minor crimes such as murder and torture pale in comparison to denying the government their taxes.
7. Counterfeit Drug Smugglers
There is rash of meth labs across this great nation of ours. Meth is a horrible drug that practically anyone can make by finding a recipe, then going down to the discount store to pick up the ingredients. On a much grander scale, chemists across the world try to take the same do-it-yourself attitude to replicate, then sell, expensive drugs for profit. They bypass safety standards and patent law, while using the Internet for their distribution process. It is estimated that up to a quarter of all medicines in third world countries are counterfeit.
The term carjacker was first used in the early 90’s when describing a car stolen while the owner of the car was still inside. Instead of a boat, the pirate usually targets large, expensive automobiles. It’s a deceptively simply premise, really: point weapon at driver, assume driver position, make off with vehicle. The first carjacking can be traced all the way back to 1912 when a young anarchist group in France, the Bonnot Gang, realized the power of the automobile when committing crimes.
5. Music and Movie Piracy
A hundred years ago, the term “piracy” applied to those who performed copyright infringement against intellectual property owners of such things as plays, sketches, and photos. Today the biggest problems stem from the theft of music and movies. A mostly-unorganized, multi-billion-dollar, black market industry has sprouted in the shadows of the legitimate music and movie industry. The exact numbers are hard to pin down, as corporations have been guilty of inflating their losses while, at the same time, short-changing their own artists. The difficulty is in trying to stop a business that is so easy to circumvent.
Shockingly, “moonshiners” are running rampant across Appalachia to this very day. With liquor stores and bars on practically every street corner of America, it is hard to believe there’s such a large market for illegal homemade alcohol, but apparently there is. As with any unregulated product, there are health risks abound with “hooch,” ranging from lead poisoning to death.
3. Thousands Of Chinese Merchandisers
In 2009, the United States government made over 15,000 seizures of counterfeit goods, over 80% of which came from China. The crisis of counterfeit goods isn’t just limited to entertainment though; it spreads throughout all merchandising levels, from high-end electronics to benign items such as toothpaste. Thank God, because the $2.35 we were blowing every few weeks on toothpaste was really starting to add up.
In China’s defense, their government claims that, in the past year alone, they’ve shut down 12,000 manufacturing plants and arrested 9,000 people, in relation to pirated goods. The Chinese government has also reassured Reuters that their piracy problem is “no longer extremely serious.” Take that for what it’s worth.
2. Pirate Radio DJ’s
In my early 20’s, I learned that people don’t own the airwaves, but corporations do. However, with only a low level of electronic expertise, you can find blueprints to build your own transmitter in order to change the world (as long as you don’t get caught.) Luckily, with advances in technology, multiple independent spirits have taken their messages off the pirate radio waves, and moved on to more legal venues, such as podcasts and Internet radio.
1. Somali Pirates
The closest thing to the pirates of past, the country of Somalia is overrun by, well, drugged-up and petty street criminals. But when your country is a dirt poor desert toilet, there’s no one to steal from. So the locals take to the sea on watercraft as small as a row boat, with guns in hand, and search for any sea-going vessels they could loot, from cargo ships to cruise liners. Whacked out on khat, it is estimated that Somali pirates cost the world economy over $7 billion in 2011 alone.