What legal consequences can there be for illegally downloading movies or music?

What legal consequences can there be for illegally downloading movies or music?

Recently, a string of lawsuits have been launched against individual downloaders in a way that has never been seen before. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) had been suing individual illegal downloaders of music, forcing them to pay a settlement for each individual song downloaded (usually $750 each), with the RIAA choosing the number of songs they want the accused to pay for. If the downloader wants to take the RIAA to court, he or she may end up having to pay even more for each downloaded song

The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) has also sued individual downloaders, representing such studios as Warner Bros., The Walt Disney Company, and Sony Pictures.
What can happen to someone if they get caught illegally copying or distributing copyrighted material?

People caught distributing copyrighted material may find themselves facing a lawsuit.



For example, in the case Capitol v. Thomas, the defendant, Jammie Thomas-Rasset, was initially required to pay $9,250 for each of the 24 songs that she shared on the file-sharing program Kazaa. However, there was an error in the original trial, and the second trial ended with Thomas-Rasset having to pay $80,000 for each of the 24 songs she infringed upon, totaling $1.9 million.

Is watching streaming movies legal?

It depends on which sites that you’re streaming from and what movies you’re streaming. Just like file-sharing programs, the Internet video technology in itself isn’t illegal in any way.

For example, if you’re watching streaming video on a popular website like Netflix or Hulu, then what you’re watching is most likely legal. If you’re watching a video of a new TV show or movie on a site like Megavideo, it’s possible you’re watching something that was put online illegally.



It is against the law for the person who posted the video to have posted it. However, it’s not against the law for you to watch/stream an infringing video that has been posted. If it was, millions of people would be breaking the law just by watching videos on YouTube each day.

Even though it’s not against the law to watch them, as soon as you do anything to reproduce or redistribute the illegal video yourself, then you actually are committing infringement. For example, if you try to download the video from the streaming site onto your hard drive, you have then independently broken the law and can be held responsible for that download.

Value free legal services for internet users?  Support them.

Find additional articles by

What's the best way to avoid legal problems for your business or creative work? 

Read our book

Paperback Ebook | Audiobook

Don't Panic is used in undergraduate & graduate classes nationwide to teach business and legal concepts to non-lawyers. Professors & Teachers can request a discounted copy from support @ newmediarights.org