What is Copyright Infringement?

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When was the last time you watched a DVD? Purchased a CD? Whether it was music or video, it probably contained an FBI warning. Copyright protects the value of creative work, and any unauthorized reproduction or distribution is breaking the law.

As an Internet provider, PenTeleData receives notification of these infringements on a regular basis, and we are required to follow-up on each occurrence. It's a time consuming process, and most often, the response from our customers is the same: "I didn't know that I had done something wrong." Still, it's an age-old crime: stealing. When using the Internet, there isn't a warning that tells you that your actions are illegal, but the law still applies. Federal law allows for severe penalties, including loss of your Internet service.

Fortunately, knowledge is power, and the following information can save you from committing a crime:

  • Copyright law protects literary works, paintings, photographs, drawings, films, music, choreography, sculptures and many other things. (Basically, if someone created it, they deserve the credit and proceeds.)
  • If you copy or distribute copyrighted work, you can be prosecuted in criminal court and/or sued for damages in civil court.
  • It is illegal to download unauthorized copies of any copyrighted material – even if you don't intend on sharing it or passing it along to others.
  • Peer-to-Peer networks allow Internet users to link their computers with other computers around the world. If you allow a file-sharing network to use part of your computer's hard drive to store copyrighted material that anyone can access and download, it's illegal. File Sharing is the distribution of data (documents, music, videos, images, e-books or any other digitally stored information) through the use of a peer-to-peer network, email, etc.
  • Torrent or bit torrent is very similar to other P2P programs (like LimeWire, Kazza etc.). Torrents integrate themselves into your web browser (example: Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari etc.) and create a new file type ".tor" (abbreviated for torrent) within the Windows operating system, similar for the Macintosh operating system. When finding a file that you wish to download, the download will initially start as a small file but then builds itself from other users around the globe until your download is complete. While you are downloading, other users begin to connect to you and get file chunks from you. This is still copyright infringement!
  • Parents: Make sure that each member understands that copyright infringement is a serious matter. As the owner of the Internet account, you are responsible for the illegal activity of anyone who uses your service.