Downloading music without paying can be a very costly mistake

On Behalf of Sanchez Burke, LLC

There may be a lack of universal understanding among people in Louisiana and elsewhere of the nuances of copyright infringement. Lawsuits and pre-suit settlements are occurring against the unwary or the reckless. People download software, music, movies and more, often without paying a charge or receiving permission from the owner. At times, they then generously share the music with others.

The practice seems so innocuous, certainly not like the internet fraud everyone hears about. However, the taking of this intellectual property may be illegal.

Why a download is possibly illegal

As described by Webster University, many contributors to marketed pieces of music await sale of that product to receive payment for their efforts. The same is true of movies. The law of copyright protects that music, prohibiting people from copying and sharing the music without permission of those who have such an interest.

In a nutshell, if a person downloads a song without paying for it, he or she likely has committed the crime of copyright infringement. Sharing that music without permission from the holder of the copyright may also be a crime. For every person who receives a free copy without permission, there is potentially one or more fewer sales of the copyright holder’s property because one who has a copy will no longer be a potential buyer.

The cost of a download can be extremely high

Further, losing a lawsuit for illegally downloading music can be very expensive for the downloader. As reported by USA Today, a woman prosecuted for violating copyright on music did not agree to settle as most of those accused did. The settlement offer was a whopping $5,000, which she could ill afford. After losing at one of multiple trials, another settlement offer arrived for $25,000. She declined. In the end, the judgment against her amounted to $222,000.

A possible way to prevent an inadvertent and illegal download is to only gather music and movies from well-known legal sources, such as Amazon. If a downloader is not paying for the download, he or she should be extra cautious to determine if there is express permission to download from the copyright holder and make no assumptions.

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