Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of works under copyright, infringing the copyright holder's "exclusive rights", such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the copyrighted work, spread the information contained within copyrighted works, or to make derivative works. It often refers to copying "intellectual property" without written permission from the copyright holder, which is typically a publisher or other business representing or assigned by the work's creator.
Copyright infringement is often associated with the terms piracy and theft. Although piracy literally means brazen high-seas robbery and kidnapping, it has a long history of use as a synonym for acts which were later codified as types of copyright infringement. Theft is more strongly hyperbolic, emphasizing the potential commercial harm of infringement to copyright holders; however, not all copyright infringement results in commercial loss, and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that infringement does not easily equate with theft.