Copyright Infringement: Awareness and Ambivalence

Until class this week, I thought I was fully aware of copyright laws, practices, and punishments. However, I had no idea that every time I do anything online that it is considered a breach in policy because it creates a copy. While I now understand how and why this works, I still do not see it as actually illegal because it does not harm or directly take away from others. From my previous understanding to my present awareness, I have and will continue to “infringe” on copyright laws online.

I worked at a CBS affiliate radio station in Minneapolis, MN this summer and one of the stories I covered featured a woman who was penalized for copyright infringement. She was charged for illegally downloading less than one hundred songs, but was charged thousands of dollars in penalties. Her lawyer defended her by saying that this is a rare case and that people are usually never prosecuted for these acts of infringement. The case was upheld in court as the judge tried to send a message, but her fine was reduced. It was unfortunate that the entire legitimacy and reputation of the music industry fell into her lap, but her case is a dime a dozen.

Because of that fact, I, as well as most other people, infringe upon copyright laws nearly everyday. “That could never happen to me” is always my rational, but someday, it very well could be. Until then, I’ll take my chances. I will continue to download TV episodes, songs, post youtube videos, etc.

The only aspect of copyright laws I have and always will respect, along with most others I believe, is dealing with academic dishonesty.


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