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Creative retouching

In digital editing, photographs are usually taken with a digital camera and input directly into a computer. Transparencies, negatives or printed photographs may also be digitized using a scanner, or images may be obtained from stock photography databases. With the advent of computers, graphics tablets, and digital cameras, the term image editing encompasses everything that can be done to a photo, whether in a darkroom or on a computer. Photo manipulation is often much more explicit than subtle alterations to color balance or contrast and may involve overlaying a head onto a different body or changing a sign’s text, for examples. Image editing software can be used to apply effects and warp an image until the desired result is achieved. The resulting image may have little or no resemblance to the photo (or photos in the case of compositing) from which it originated. Today, photo manipulation is widely accepted as an art form.

There are several subtypes of digital image-retouching:

Technical retouching

Manipulation for photo restoration or enhancement (adjusting colors / contrast / white balance (i.e. gradational retouching), sharpness, noise, removing elements or visible flaws on skin or materials, …)

Creative retouching

Used as an art form or for commercial use to create more sleek and interesting images for advertisements. Creative retouching could be manipulation for fashion, beauty or advertising photography such as pack-shots (which could also be considered inherently technical retouching in regards to package dimensions and wrap-around factors). One of the most prominent disciplines in creative retouching is image compositing. Here, the digital artist uses multiple photos to create a single image. Today, 3D computer graphics are used more and more to add extra elements or even locations and backgrounds. This kind of image composition is widely used when conventional photography would be technically too difficult or impossible to shoot on location or in studio.

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Illegal downloads

Copyright holders frequently refer to copyright infringement as theft. In copyright law, infringement does not refer to theft of physical objects that take away the owner’s possession, but an instance where a person exercises one of the exclusive rights of the copyright holder without authorization. Courts have distinguished between copyright infringement and theft. For instance, the United States Supreme Court held in Dowling v. United States (1985) that bootleg phonorecords did not constitute stolen property. Instead, “interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud. The Copyright Act even employs a separate term of art to define one who misappropriates a copyright: ‘[…] an infringer of the copyright.'” The court said that in the case of copyright infringement, the province guaranteed to the copyright holder by copyright law—certain exclusive rights—is invaded, but no control, physical or otherwise, is taken over the copyright, nor is the copyright holder wholly deprived of using the copyrighted work or exercising the exclusive rights held.

Developing world

In Media Piracy in Emerging Economies, the first independent international comparative study of media piracy with center on Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa, Mexico, Turkey and Bolivia, “high prices for media goods, low incomes, and cheap digital technologies” are the chief factors that lead to the global spread of media piracy, especially in emerging markets.

According to the same study, even though digital piracy inflicts additional costs on the production side of media, it also offers the main access to media goods in developing countries. The strong tradeoffs that favor using digital piracy in developing economies dictate the current neglected law enforcements toward digital piracy. In China, the issue of digital piracy is not merely legal, but social – originating from the high demand for cheap and affordable pirated goods as well as the governmental connections of the businesses which produce such goods.

Motivations due to censorship

There have been instances where a country’s government bans a movie, resulting in the spread of pirated videos and DVDs. Romanian-born documentary maker Ilinca Calugareanu wrote a New York Times article telling the story of Irina Margareta Nistor, a narrator for state TV under Nicolae Ceauşescu’s regime. A visitor from the west gave her bootlegged copies of American movies, which she dubbed for secret viewings through Romania. According to the article, she dubbed more than 3,000 movies and became the country’s second-most famous voice after Ceauşescu, even though no one knew her name until many years later.