When we think about piracy we usually conjure up pictures in the mind of Blackbeard and other extravagantly dressed individuals brandishing cutllasses in sea battles on ancient sail ships with a Jolly Roger flying, but piracy of course in general is not so romantic and refers to a crime of taking something that doesn't belong to you. The term is presently used to describe the unlawful replication of copies of original works such as movies on DVD and distributing them cheaply for profit.
In its traditional sense though, piracy is typically an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea, although it could also include acts committed on land or in the air. The term has been used throughout history to refer to raids across land or sea borders by foreigners seeking to take over property or territory.
We tend to think more often of piracy however, mainly as referring to the thieving of goods from a ship at sea and it is reasonable to assume that pirate history began almost as soon as commerce on the oceans itself, and there is evidence of piracy in various parts of the world since at least Greek and Roman times. The Phoenicians are thought to have indulged in piracy, and especially in kidnapping young boys and girls to sell as slaves. (more...)