Why Are People Accused Of Copyright Infringement?

by : Richard Cunningham

When you hear about people caught of copyright infringement, many different things can happen to them. First, copyright infringement is both a civil and criminal crime, so people caught of copyright infringement are likely to get both sued and tried in criminal court. Because of the nature of copyright laws, if and when people are caught of copyright infringement, it’s likely they will get repercussions from far and wide.

People are always looking for others violating copyright laws. Copyright owners and/or agents surf the Internet, so they may find the violations themselves. Usually, if someone finds a person violating their copyright rights, they’ll notify the person or entities involved and ask they permanently remove the content, if it’s available on the Internet. They do this by either asking the person directly to take it down, or demanding the website server to take it down (which they will, immediately, and probably suspend the account). If the person or entity hosting the violation doesn’t take it down, more serious actions will be taken, such as a lawsuit or criminal charge.

People caught for copyright infringement do not automatically go to jail, although some entities like major television, music, movie publishers and distribution channels may lead you to believe otherwise. For example, many people are caught for copyright infringement at YouTube.com, but they only need to take down the material. In many cases, YouTube.com will take the material down before the poster (the person who put the copyrighted information on the site to begin with) has a chance to see the warning.

Other times, a work will be present on a peer to peer file sharing service, such as Kazaa or Napster, and the host of said service will blame the end user (you!). So, even if you found a file on a file sharing service, such as Kazaa, doesn’t mean the copyright is open for you to take it. Many people caught of copyright infringement have been found through these peer to peer networks, and it has been found that the user who downloads the material gets charged and not the file sharing service. Be careful, if you are ever to use a peer to peer service such as Kazaa (or bit torrent, which is the code/program for another type of peer to peer file distribution tool) that you’re only downloading, and sharing, items that aren’t copyrighted works -- or you could be punished severely.

Sometimes, people are caught of file sharing from their IP addresses -- because they download something from a secure site, their servers can track your IP address (your unique location on the Internet, four sets of numbers, separated by periods, with at most three numbers in each set -- i.e. which is the IP address of Google.com). So even if you think you’ve bypassed the copyright law, you can still be found years later by tracing that IP address.

There are many ways to find people caught of copyright infringement. You can search through Google.com or look through newspaper databases. One thing, however, remains the same in all these cases -- people are downloading, sharing, or in some other way using copyrighted materials. The problem is, especially in the Internet age, is that even if you’re using something anonymously, you can still be tracked -- and prosecuted -- for the infringement. Be careful, in all you download or use, have the rights to use the item --sometimes it’s as simple as asking permission that will keep you from getting sued or sent to jail.