When you think about internet crimes, you might think of hacking or stealing someone’s identity. However, there are much less obvious types of internet crimes. One such act is a copyright violation, better known as “pirating.”

Pirating has always been a popular way to get what you want for free, but it is against the law. People use cloud platforms to share downloadable content. Typically, one or two people have purchased the content and then upload it for download online. Generally speaking, users can obtain this pirated content for free, which costs the original owner of the copyrighted content a significant amount of money.

It has been suggested that pirating costs the U.S. economy around $20.5 billion each year. Illegal streaming and downloading were made simple with the increased use of the internet, and the impact on film and television in particular has been extreme.

What should you do if you’re accused of pirating software, music or other products illegally?

Although few people are actually taken to court over illegal streaming or downloading, those who are face serious penalties. Illegal file charging can result in up to five years in jail and up to $150,000 in fines for each file that was stolen. The copyright holder also has a right to sue for losses, which can mean even higher financial penalties.

If you are accused of taking copyrighted work, talk to your attorney as soon as possible. You must do all you can to protect yourself because the penalties are extreme and can force you into jail or prison and cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars.