Know the Dos and Don'ts of Copyright Law.
Illegal downloading is still a serious problem, where students admit that they never or only rarely pay for the computer software, songs, music, and movies that they get on the Internet. Some of these students don’t know the rules against making illegal copies. Most probably don’t know the risks. Before you make a mistake while online, read this.
Copyright Laws provide for authors and others who produce original creative works to have an exclusive right to make and distribute copies of their work for a specified length of time. This copyright allows creative workers to profit from their labors and encourages creativity in society as a whole.
Copyright protects any original creative work that has been fixed in some tangible form of expression – writings, diagrams, works of art, musical compositions, sound recordings, photographs, motion pictures, computer software, and more. Such works are called intellectual property and may not be copied by anyone without the copyright holder’s permission.
Today, copyright laws apply as soon as a work is created. There is no need to mark the work with a copyright symbol. In fact, your own original creative works – your school papers, drawings, photos, videos, even the message on your voicemail—are all forms of intellectual property protected by copyright.
Copyright law permits the “fair use of a copyrighted work for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.” This means that students, for example, can use excerpts from a copyrighted work in a school paper without obtaining the copyright holder’s permission. (Students must still cite their sources to avoid plagiarism.) Fair use does not mean, however, that students can make copies of copyrighted works for their own personal use, or exchange copies with other students.
Any illegal copying or distribution of a copyrighted work is called piracy, even when there is no intention of monetary gain. In fact, most piracy occurs through simple disregard of the law rather than to make a profit. You could be committing piracy if you:
Copyright infringement is stealing and is a serious offence that can attract criminal and civil penalties. For more information on the law, check with the local Intellectual Property organizations in your country.