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Are downloaded works over peer-to-peer networks violating copyright law?

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Downloading works over peer-to-peer networks can be illegal in some cases and legal in other cases.

If the peer-to-peer network is an “unauthorized” network, meaning one could download a work without actually purchasing it, then the action of downloading from that network is considered copyright infringement.

Anyone who downloads a copyright protected work from a peer-to-peer network, without first purchasing an authorization to do so, must assume the risk that they are violating the copyright owner’s exclusive rights of reproduction and/or distribution for their work.

There are peer-to-peer networks that are considered “authorized” services, whereby a user can purchase a copyrighted work online before downloading it on their computer. These services provide legal means of distributing copyrighted works through the Internet, and by purchasing works through them, a user can avoid copyright infringement risks.

If a user is caught illegally downloading a copyrighted work over a peer-to-peer network, they are subject to copyright infringement penalties. Statutory damages for copyright infringement range upward to $30,000 for each work infringed and even possibly upwards to $150,000 for each work infringed if willful infringement can be proven by the copyright owner.


For more information on intellectual property, please visit Patent, Trademark, Copyright Information.

The content of this article is not intended to be, and does not constitute, legal advice and does not create attorney-client privilege. Consult the attorney of your choice before embarking on any legal matter or any document preparation/filing.

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Dr. Thomas R. (Terry) Williamson III is a Patent Attorney practicing in Atlanta, Georgia.

C2008, Williamson Intellectual Property Law, LLC; all rights reserved, world-wide.

Williamson Intellectual Property Law, LLC
1870 The Exchange, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30339
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Williamson Intellectual Property Law, LLC
1870 The Exchange, Suite 100 - Atlanta, Georgia 30339