Using musical, dramatic, literary and other kinds of creative works without permission may constitute copyright infringement. Illegal software and its distribution also fall under the definition of copyright infringement, of which internet piracy is a popular and fast-growing form.

Copyright protection explained

Federal law guides copyright protection and covers original works of authorship that emerge in a tangible medium through which they can be communicated or reproduced. It is not necessary for these original works to be copyrighted, although registration with the Library of Congress provides a certain amount of protection. The federal laws that apply to copyright infringement include Title 17 of the United States Code and the U.S. No Electronic Theft Act, also known as the NET Act.

Of warez and internet piracy

“Warez” is a term for pirated software; in other words, software that is copied illegally and distributed via the internet. The most common form of software piracy is called “softlifting,” which refers to sharing a particular program with anyone who is not authorized by the software licensing program to use it. However, internet piracy is the fastest-growing operation because of the ever-increasing number of internet users. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of warez sites containing unlimited downloads, which can be accessed by anyone.

A word about Fair Use

Reproduction of copyrighted material may, in some instances, be termed “Fair Use.” Examples include material that is used for the purposes of news reporting, teaching, commenting or criticising. For example, excerpts from a literary work may be used in a quote for a newspaper column or even ridiculed in a parody.

Remedies for copyright owners

Copyright infringement cases are heard in the federal court, and the owner of the copyright can sue for statutory damages, which provide for recovery of up to $30,000. If the violation of copyright law was willful, the penalty extends to recovery of up to $150,000 and a year in prison. Penalties for those engaged in internet piracy or other types of electronic copyright infringement can range up to six years in prison depending on the circumstances.