Copyright law is a broad spectrum that includes certain material on the Internet. Generally, any original copyrighted work belongs to an owner who has the sole right to that work. Those who distribute, change or otherwise use a copyrighted work without permission might be infringing on a copyright. In Ohio and other states, one cannot circulate a copyrighted work on the Internet without authorization.

A person or company can own a work and the right to use it in certain ways for a period of time, and others must obtain the legal right to use that information even when posting that work on the Internet. The Internet is frequently used to share music, movies, TV shows and software like applications or games, and a violation can occur when these materials are downloaded from sources that did not have permission to distribute this content. This constitutes intellectual property theft and may also include posting art and writing online without permission.

One who is unsure about using something found online can check a website’s policy on distributing and using material. This information is usually found in a “terms of use” section, which details acceptable uses of the content found on a site.

There are risks for those who get material from unauthorized locations as well as for those who distribute work without permission. Those who illegally download files could get a computer virus from untrustworthy sites or pay a fine for infringement. In some situations, those charged with illegally distributing content could face jail time. Internet crimes are considered white collar crimes just as serious as money laundering or fraud, and negative consequences may result if the authorities even suspect one of it. A person who is suspected of or charged with copyright infringement may wish to discuss the situation with an attorney in order to determine the best defense strategy that may be available.