Julian: We all love our digital content, but how much of what you are downloading is actually legal? One study found that 70% of young people have downloaded unauthorized material. That is, material that is protected by copyright.
A copyright gives an artist legal ownership of his or her work, things like movies, music and TV shows. In most cases, you have to have permission from the work’s creator in order to use these things. So, when people download or share copyrighted material without permission, they are breaking the law. And the people who earn money from selling that material, like songwriters and artists, lose out. One study estimates unauthorized downloading is responsible for about 70,000 lost jobs in every year.
In the past, groups like the Recording Industry Association of America, RIAA, have sued people who downloaded illegally and won millions of dollars. But in 2008, the RIAA decided to stop suing and work with the internet service providers instead.
Copyright groups like the RIAA have partnered with five internet service providers, AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon, to develop a new program called the Copyright Alert System.
Here is how it works: the copyright groups track popular peer-to-peer networks, like BitTorrent. And if they catch you illegally sharing copyrighted material, these groups will tattle on you to your internet provider. You will then get a warning letter about how you shouldn’t be doing illegal things. After multiple warnings, internet providers will do some pretty annoying things to get you to stop, like force you to watch a video before you can surf the web or slow down your internet speed. Every service provider will have their own policy to discourage illegal sharing.
Maggie, back to you.
- What is a copyright?
- Why is it illegal to download copyrighted material without permission?
- Why has the recording industry partnered with internet service providers?