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This article is about maritime piracy. For software, copyright and trademark piracy see Copyright Infringement.

A typical "Jolly Roger" flag associated with pirates

Piracy is defined by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) as: "an act of boarding or attempting to board any ship with the intent to commit theft or any other crime and with the attempt to or capability to use force in the furtherance of that act,"[1] while the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) defines it as: "illegal acts of violence or detention acts committed on the high seas, or outside the jurisdiction of a coastal state, for private ends by private ship against another private ship," which is in concordance with Article 101 of the United Nations (UN) Law of the Sea.[2] The distinction is subtle but important, as the UN law allows many piratical acts which occur within national waters to be classed as armed robbery, rather than piracy.


  1. Johnson, Derek S. and Pladdet, Erika Maritime Piracy in Asia International Institute for Asian Studies Accessed July 13 2007
  2. Johnson et al, op cit