Today’s technology has given people the privilege of getting anything with a quick search online. People are just a click away from just about anything digital. But, all of this can come at a price.
While it’s unlikely you’ll get in trouble from checking the news or social media, downloading something online could have legal ramifications. Here’s what you should know:
Illegal downloads can infringe on copyrights
Every product (clothes, books, paintings, toys, cars, etc.) is protected by copyrights at the time of its creation – this doesn’t, however, protect anything that is not put in tangible form (ideas, concepts or speeches).
Copyrights allow an original creator to decide how their creation is distributed, sold and recreated. In other words, if someone were to burn and sell a CD of music without the creator’s permission then they would be infringing on a copyright.
Pirating a product takes away revenue from the original creator. There may even be a fear that if a product is stolen and used for other intentions, the original creator won’t get the credit they deserve. Accordingly, some content creators will seek out people who violate their copyrights to demand compensation for their losses.
Just because a product is available online for free, doesn’t mean it’s legal
Many sites redistribute digital products for free: novels, music, games, computer programs, films, designs and more. Users who decide to upload or download these creations may be infringing on their copyright if the original creator didn’t give permission to do so, which could result in serious fines or incarceration.
Not everyone willingly downloads products online knowing they are violating rules. If you mistakenly download a product without realizing the significance of copyrights and how that can violate federal law, then you may need legal help to protect your name.