What Do Students, Teens and Others Need to Know?

Whenever you create something like a poem, a story or a song, you own it – and no one else can use it without your permission. That ownership is called copyrightCopyright enables artists (people who create songs, movies and TV shows) to decide how to distribute and to be paid for their work; Copyright protects ownership rights whether on CD, DVD or as a digital file on the Internet..

The same is true for the artists who create your favorite songs, movies and TV shows. There are many sites that allow you to listen, watch and download content legally. But some of the things you do on the Internet that seem easy – or common – may actually be illegal. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Sharing an unauthorized digital copy of a CD or DVD is illegal, either on the Internet (on file-sharing sites like Ares, BitTorrent, Gnutella, LimeWire and FrostWire) or for a friend.
  • Legal music download services generally allow you to make copies for your own use on other devices. For example, iTunes allows you to enjoy your purchases on a handful of registered devices, but not to share that content with others.
  • Music and video streaming services like Vevo and YouTube give instant access to videos for free. These services are legal – because they don’t allow you to download or “rip” the content.

If you’re looking for music, TV shows or movies online, there are now hundreds of legal services available worldwide. For more information please see A Better Way to Find Movies, TV & Music.

The terms “copyright” and “peer-to-peer network” are often used in connection with online piracy, so it is important to understand what they mean. Here’s a brief video explaining these terms that will help you understand the distinction between legal and illegal file sharing online.

Please note, all of the material on our site is intended for individuals thirteen (13) years of age or older.