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Even when people don't realize it, pirated downloads are illegal

Pirated material that has been recreated in hard copy is often easy to spot, and people generally understand that selling it is illegal. Movies and CDs may look fake, the covers and cases may look different than they should, and prices may be so low that it's obviously too good to be true.

However, what a lot of people don't realize is that pirated goods also change hands on the Internet all of the time, and getting them is just as illegal as getting the hard copies. It may seem easier—all you have to do is click a few links to get movies, music, and more—but it still breaks all sorts of copyright and theft laws, and it can come with huge ramifications.

The penalties for intellectual property theft, even for those who are engaging in it for the first time, can range up to five years behind bars. Additionally, people could be told to pay fines of as much as $250,000.

The reason that the government is so strict about these things is that the entertainment industry is huge, employing hundreds of thousands of people. When just looking at television and movies, the industry generates around $13 billion per year. Pirated material cuts into these profits and therefore harms the economy. It can also have an impact on support staff—everyone from the camera crew on a movie set to the person who takes tickets at the local theater.

If you have been accused of Internet crimes like intellectual property theft, especially if you didn't know what you were doing was illegal, you must know all of your rights in Ohio.

Source: NCPC, "Intellectual Property Theft: Get Real," accessed Dec. 31, 2015

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