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Conway Criminal Law Blog

The cybertheft of media may seem easy, but it is not victimless

When we see FBI warnings against copyright infringement before burning a DVD or when we download some music on the Internet for free, we may believe that doing so really causes no harm, that everyone does it, and that these actions are never really prosecuted.

This is not the truth. Electronic media is copyrighted and cybertheft causes the creators of the media to lose out on potential sales that can sometimes cost them millions of dollars. Congress recognized this problem and enacted laws prohibiting cybertheft.

Congress criminalizes cybertheft

The No Electronic Theft Act was passed into law in 1997 in response to the increasing problem of people using the Internet to commit cybertheft of copyrighted materials. Under the act, it is against the law to copy, distribute or share music, movies, video games or computer software online. This is because these electronic works are copyrighted.

It is no defense that the person committing the alleged cybertheft was not paid for doing so. Violators of the act can face up to three years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Alternatives to electronic cybertheft

It is possible to legally obtain music, games, movies and other electronic works on the Internet. Music can be downloaded for a minimal fee on online media platforms such as iTunes and Amazon Music. Movies and television shows can be watched through paid-for streaming services such as Hulu and Netflix. Books can be purchased and downloaded to e-readers such as Kindles.

It is understandably tempting to get something for nothing, but it is in your best interest to use legitimate online resources to download the music, media, games and software you want to enjoy.

White collar crimes like cybertheft are not victimless crimes and they will be prosecuted in South Carolina. Attorneys help people accused of white collar crimes to defend their rights.