Illegal music downloading can carry penalties that far outweigh the value of the goods. Depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances of the case, a person may be incarcerated. She may also experience heavy financial obligations in the form of fines and civil damages. Many higher learning facilities have developed policies for dealing with students who are convicted of downloading music illegally.
It is important for people to realize that illegal music downloading is not only wrong but is also a criminal offense in some jurisdictions. This means that if a person is found guilty in those places, the offense can be listed on her criminal record. In some cases, this offense may even be a felony. As a result, it is possible that the criminal record that stems from these activities may affect a person’s life in various ways for a long time.
There are several ways that illegal music downloading can result in a heavy financial burden. To begin with, conviction may be accompanied by fines that are far greater than the purchase price of the music that is acquired. The guilty party may also face civil lawsuits.
In the United States, for example, the Copyright Office says, “Anyone found to have infringed a copyrighted work may be liable for statutory damages up to $30,000 US Dollars (USD) for each work infringed and, if willful infringement is proven by the copyright owner, that amount may be increased up to $150,000 USD for each work infringed.” In the case of illegal music downloading, a work will generally refer to a single song. As many people who download music are likely to get more than a single song, it is easy to see how the damages can become very expensive. In addition to that, the guilty party may also be held responsible for the attorney’s fees of the parties whose music was illegally downloaded.
Some people are subject to consequences besides those that are financial. In some jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom, illegal music downloading can lead to incarceration. Sentences vary, but there is often the potential to be ordered to serve several years.
Furthermore, many students risk jeopardizing their educational careers and therefore may also be jeopardizing their futures. Some educational facilities have developed policies for dealing with students who are convicted of illegal downloading. These policies, like the laws in various jurisdictions, may vary. In some cases, the students may be warned for a rather mild first offense. If caught a second time, they may be put out of school.