Many people ask the question, “Is downloading music illegal“ or “Can I go to jail for downloading music?” Since sharing electronic files over the Internet began in the early stages of the Internet there has always been controversy about whether or not downloading music, videos and full length feature films was legal. Recently a company known as Megaupload, who offers their users the ability to share movies with each other over the Internet has been shut down by the federal government. The feds claim that that the company allowed millions of users to illegally download movies with copyrights. While Megaupload is concerned about being prosecuted, maybe their users should be concerned as well.
With over one hundred and seventy five million users, Megaupload was considered to be one of the largest websites in the United States, as far as web traffic is concerned. This recent shut down and indictment is claiming that the company is in violation of copyright infringement, perhaps millions of counts. The New Zealand based company claims that they are not a U.S. based company and are asking that the charges be dropped and the site to go back online. The company says they are protected because they allow sharing of files and media over the Internet; they do not specifically say what kind of material can and cannot be shared. The problem was that most of the files shared on the site were copyrighted materials and the Federal Government is claiming that they were promoting users to share this material illegally.
Under the DMCA or Digital Millennium Copyright Act, websites can share copyrighted material as long as they take it down if requested. This act protects companies like YouTube that do not promote the sharing of copyrighted materials but do allow it to some extent. The fact that most of the files being shared by Megaupload were under copyright raises some flags.
Most remember something very similar to this occurring with the music industry when “free download” sites like Napster came about. The recording artists were furious that they were losing money in record sales and attacked not only the web based companies that offered this sharing technology, but the individuals who downloaded the music from the sites. Recording artists were able to sue anyone who illegally shared or downloaded their music up to ten thousand dollars per song and were successful in doing this on many occasions. Does this mean that you will be sued if you have ever downloaded a movie illegally? Probably not but filmmakers are following suit with the music industry so if you are still downloading media illegally, you may want to reconsider.
If you need sound legal advice, contact the Elite Lawyer Project today for a free consultation with a skilled personal injury lawyer in your area.