Every time you log onto a computer, you potentially face a complex mix of ethical and legal decisions. This takes on added importance if you represent a company that pays your salary.
The sharing of files or copyrighted material falls under state and federal piracy laws and violations could result in criminal charges.
California law and piracy
Information from UC San Diego provides a summary of the state’s laws governing piracy and file sharing. Individuals or businesses that send out commercial work through the internet to more than 10 people must supply the sender’s email and the title of the work. Failure to do so is a violation of the law and could have significant legal implications.
Violators could face fines of up to $2,500 and/or imprisonment for one year. A violation of the law does not occur, however, in the following situations:
- The sender has title to the copyright
- The sender provides the files to only family members
- The sender has permission from the copyright owner to disseminate the material
Companies must ensure that all workers understand the implications of copyright infringement by providing clear guidelines. If you are an employee, you should follow the guidelines regarding commercial work to avoid legal action. The law defines a commercial work as copyrighted material designed for sale, rent or performance by the owner, creator or legal representative.
Basic piracy laws call for respect of copyrighted material and refraining from sending such information illegally. A knowledgeable attorney can help you avoid the negative consequences of running afoul of anti-piracy laws.