Those of you who think legal issues and copyright infringement isn’t a big deal should think again. You might have cheated your way through high school without being caught, but now it’s easier than ever to identify information theft. The problem of copyright infringement, or at least being confronted about it in a court of law, certainly isn’t decreasing. Since 2010, the Internet has become more pervasive in our lives, and along with it, the annual number of copyright lawsuits has increased from 1,983 to the aforementioned 5,076. If you got busted today, would you have enough spare cash to hire a reputable lawyer to defend you?
Furthermore, is taking the chance on owning illegally obtained information worth it? Because the penalties can include:
- Fines between $750 and $250,000
- Up to five years in jail
- Cost of damages done
- Attorney fees
All of this heavy talk about crime, prison, and punishment has a silver lining, however, and its name is Fair Use. While Fair Use is designed to be debatable and on a case-by-case basis, there are several types of content for online use that are generally safe to post.
Fair Use, or use without permission from a copyright holder, includes:
- Commentary and criticism
- Teaching and scholarship
- News reporting
- Images and content licensed under Creative Commons or Public Domain
At the end of the day, if you’re not sure, ask the owner of any content you wish to use for permission. You may or may not need to pay to use it, but double checking is free, and sending one email is certainly less expensive than being sent to court. Before posting or downloading illicitly, ask yourself: is this worth the punishment? You rather be safe than sorry.
Infographic source: Monder Law