Sink that Pirate Ship!
Ahhh…don’t you just love a good pirate? After all…some pirates can are pretty sexy and what women doesn’t have a “special appreciation” for a bad boy occasionally? I can think of at least one that I wouldn’t mind sailing away with myself…and you’ll be sure to find me at the movie theater this spring when his new movie comes out! Remember these (not so subtle) words that greeted our beloved Captain Jack in the first movie? “Pirates…Ye be warned!” This message was displayed on a crudely made sign and placed on some hanging skeleton’s (nice touch) just to make a point. Well…don’t say I didn’t warn ‘ye.
This is a topic that we have educated our clients on for years. Pirated intellectual property (and yes, it should concern YOU).
Today we have instant access to so much over the internet and we…well…kind of forget that a lot of the “sharing” that goes on is illegal. Of course, most of us are law abiding, God fearing, tax paying, hard working citizens and we certainly wouldn’t consider ourselves thieves. But, there are some pretty upset people working for the entertainment and software industries that would beg to differ with you…and they are eager to make an example of you. Luckily no lynchings will be involved but it’s sure to take a few years off your life (and savings) non-the-less.
So even if you look like Johnny Depp (and if you do, please feel free to call me) you’ll have to follow the rules like the rest of us. If not, you just might get a surprise knock on your door…and it won’t be the Publishers Clearing House people. Oh they will have something for you alright. A hefty fine and/or some jail time. Not the kind of visit I’d like! <insert inappropriate Johnny Depp joke here>
Our advice? These rules apply to everyone. If you are responsible for others (i.e. business owners or parents) make sure everyone is educated on them (employers should have a usage policy). You are ultimately liable for their actions.
What exactly is illegal?
As a general rule of thumb all music, movies, photos, software and even website content is protected by copyright. It does not have to be labeled “copyright” to be considered such and protected under copyright laws. Unless the author specifically says “go ahead and share.” Unauthorized downloading, uploading and/or distribution (sharing) is actionable as copyright infringement, even if not done for profit. Further, claiming “ignorance” may not save you as a defense.
How does someone typically get caught?
Every time you log onto the internet you are assigned an IP address from your internet provider. This IP address is how you can be tracked down. Contrary to popular belief you are NOT anonymous on the internet. Private companies (such as movie, music industry, etc.) can petition your internet provider for information about downloads and find offenders.
Individuals can turn in offenders for a reward (money talks…friends walk).
Updates. When your programs update they link up to the manufacturer (i.e., Microsoft, etc.) where they have several “ways” to verify that your software is genuine.
What can I do to keep it legal and stay out of trouble?
Photos, text content, graphics, creative, etc. Always give credit where credit is due. Site links when sharing information from other websites. Remember photos, logos, specialized fonts and graphics are protected by copyright too. If someone else created it – it is not yours. Most often you can find ones to use on free sites or just pay for the rights to use them. Typically we are talking really small usage fees (even as low as a single dollar).
Software. Don’t let your friends do you any “favors” by installing programs or a new operating system onto your computer. If it is legitimate you will have a genuine license sticker adhered to your system or an actual disk from the manufacturer. If downloading yourself, look for terms such as “shareware,” “freeware,” “trial” (usually in terms of software programs) these are okay to use. Software companies work long and hard to put out a good product. Don’t rip them off by “sharing” it. Besides, you get some perks for paying to use it in way of support and full functionality of the product that you won’t get in those borrowed copies. Be sure to read the license agreement to see how many of YOUR computers you can put it on. How do they find you out? When your system asks you to run updates you will be connected to the manufacturer.
Music. When purchasing music to download read the terms and conditions. Don’t assume that you can copy it to multiple devices within the same household. Make sure kids stay away from sites like Limewire, Kazaa and BearShare where they can engage in peer-to-peer sharing. Again, while it is not illegal to share files it IS illegal to share copyrighted material. These are the types of sites where kids (and their parents) can get into serious trouble because they might start innocent enough but before they know it hundreds or thousands of people have “borrowed” their downloaded music. This is what makes the record companies REALLY unhappy and you could be fined EACH TIME someone has downloaded that piece of music from your kids (or your) computer via the peer-to-peer. You may then get a letter in the mail from your internet provider telling you that the IP address assigned to use has engaged in illegal distribution of copyrighted material over the internet.
Movies. Many people use torrent (or download) sites such as Pirate Bay and Demonoid to engage in “sharing.” The production companies are allowed to monitor these sites and again, with the help of your IP address you can be caught. Movies are so cheap to rent now with the help of Blockbuster, Netflix, Red Box, PPV, etc. it’s not worth it.
Remember there are millions of dollars lost to pirating in these industries each year and they take it very seriously. Sure, lots of people do it but it doesn’t make it right and in the wise words of Mama’s everywhere… “IF anyone’s going to get caught, it’s probably going to be you!” So, just how lucky ARE you?
Copyright © 2011 Help Me!!® Tech Team, a division of HELP ME!!® Computers, LLC
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