Many people have pursued the hobby of downloading movies and songs on the Internet and sharing them with their friends and family online. However, this is direct violation of U.S. copyright laws. Not surprisingly, the biggest violators of the movie copyright laws are students. The movie industry is sending out copyright infringement claims to college universities around the country. One reason that college students may be the hardest hit is that they are not aware of how serious a crime copyright infringement is.
Many college students who have lawsuits brought against them are shocked, to say the least. They question why they were not warned about the perils of downloading movies and songs online and passing them along to friends. However, with the rise of claims, no one can claim ignorance for much longer. Word is being spread near and far that if you engage in illegal downloading and/or sharing, then you can be brought to court. College students are learning the hard way that it is against the law and in violation of copyright laws to share or download copyrighted material. Many colleges and universities now state in their handbooks that it is against the law to illegally download movies, music and other forms of media using school computers.
In addition to illegal downloading and sharing movies, the files take up space on the computer systems and use a considerable amount of bandwidth. While most universities and colleges will not look at the content an individual has — they can isolate and identify the individuals who are hogging up bandwidth by using illegal file sharing.
The movie and music industries have stepped in and are demanding restitution for illegally downloaded movies, music and other forms of copyrighted media. They have detection agencies that have the technology to identify and trace copyright infringements straight to their source. Once the computer is located they can notify the university or the college that they are in violation. The university will be told that they have a copyright infringement claim against them. Based on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, once the computer is isolated, then Internet access is terminated to that computer and court proceedings can begin.
Does this sound far fetched? Well, it is not. You should know that a few years ago Recording Industry Association of America sued four students. These students attended Princeton, Michigan Technical University and Rensselear Polytechnic Institute. One student had an estimated liability of $150 billion. When you consider that you can be charged $750 per song that you illegally download, the total can add up fast! The good thing is the lawsuits against the college students were settled for amounts less than $20,000. That is not pocket change for college students — or anyone for that matter!
Movies and music are meant to be enjoyed. However, illegally downloading movies and music is not much different than walking into a video store and sticking DVDs and CDs in your pocket. Be careful. You do not want to be caught violating any movie copyright laws.