- I received a communication that says my Internet account was identified as having been used to illegally copy and/or distribute copyrighted material over the Internet. What does this mean?
Movies and TV shows are protected by copyright. The unauthorized downloading or uploading of movies and TV shows is actionable as copyright infringement, even if not done for profit.
Illegal copying and distribution of copyrighted movies and TV shows is often accomplished using “peer-to-peer” (P2P) software installed on individual computers, which allows your computer to exchange files with other computers that are running similar software. P2P services usually configure their software so that any files you download (and any other files in your “shared folder”) are automatically made accessible to anyone else on the P2P network that requests them.
When you use such services to download and upload files, you are not anonymous. Whenever you connect to the Internet, your computer is assigned a unique “Internet protocol (IP) address” from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). This unique IP address is used to identify your computer as the source of available files to all other computers on a P2P network. The infringement notice you received is the result of your computer having been identified as engaged in an illegal transfer of copyrighted movies or TV shows. A notice was sent to your ISP identifying the particular infringement and the associated IP address. Your ISP determined from its records that the IP address was assigned to your account when the infringement was committed. Your ISP then sent you the infringement notice you received.
- What If I didn't realize I was uploading copyrighted files?
If you have P2P software installed on one or more of your computers connected to the Internet it enables computers with similar P2P software to communicate with each other and transfer files. If you have P2P software on your computer delete it, or if you have a legal reason to use the software, delete any unauthorized files in your "shared folder."
- What if my IP address does not match the one listed on the notice?
That doesn’t mean that the notice is mistaken. IP addresses are not permanent; they change from time to time. Your ISP keeps records listing the IP address assigned to your account at any given time. According to your ISP’s records, when the IP address in question was identified illegally downloading and/or distributing the movie or TV show in question, the IP address was assigned to your account. So, even if your account has a different IP address now, according to your ISP’s records it was assigned the IP address in question when the infringement occurred.
- What do I do now to resolve this?
First, you should look carefully at the notice you received from your ISP. That will tell you whether there are specific ISP - or educational institution – imposed penalties associated with receiving the notice and whether you need to contact your ISP or school administration about this incident.
Additionally, as indicated in the notice, you should immediately take the following steps in order to prevent further infringing activity and to prevent serious legal and other consequences:
• Discontinue downloading and uploading unauthorized copies of movies and television shows.
• Permanently delete from your computer all illegal movie or TV shows from all computers linked to the account. If you downloaded the file from a P2P service or a Web site that seems too good to be legal - for example, a site or service offering free copies of movies still in theatres - then assume it is not legal.
• If you do not use P2P software for lawful purposes, delete it.
• If you use P2P for lawful purposes (to upload or download files that you are legally authorized to reproduce or distribute), make sure the only authorized files in your P2P "shared folder" are ones you are authorized to distribute in this way.
Remember, distributing files illegally puts you at risk for sanctions imposed for violating your ISP's terms of service as well as substantial civil, and in some cases, criminal penalties
- I've heard that P2P services can be risky. How are they risky?
Many P2P services are used overwhelmingly to infringe copyright. P2P services are unlike most websites in that they enable files to be downloaded directly from any computer (“peer”) on the network, rather than from a single, centralized computer “server” or website. With many of these P2P services, when you download a file from another user, that file is indexed and your computer automatically becomes a distributor of that file to others. When you use such services to download infringing files, you are not anonymous and you subject yourself to serious potential legal penalties and other sanctions.
In addition, malicious users utilize some P2P networks to spread viruses, worms and Trojan horses (programs enabling hackers to gain control of your computer). Illegal file transfers can also expose your private computer files to strangers, increasing the risk of identity theft. To learn more about these risks, see the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Web page at www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt128.shtm.
- I want to delete the copies of the unauthorized films or television shows on my computer. How do I do this?
If you know the name of the title you are looking for, you can use the “search” function on most computer systems to search for your files by name. If you don’t find a title at first, try searching for one particular word of the title, or by entering the filename indicated on the notice. You may also use this same function to search by file types commonly associated with movies or TV shows. Check your user manual, or the “help” feature on your computer, to find out how to use this function.
You can also download this simple and free program that will generate a list of movie or television files and common peer-to-peer file sharing applications installed on your computer. This program lists multimedia files within size parameters that indicate that they could be movies, television shows or songs. It does not distinguish between legally and illegally obtained content. It is up to the user to make this determination. The information generated by the software is made available only to the program's user and is not transmitted or reported to any other entity. You can download this program here. (By clicking here you will be connecting to another site.)
- I've never downloaded an illegal movie or TV show? Why did I receive this notice?
If you checked for illegal files and found none, and if you are sure that no one illegally downloaded any movies or TV shows using your computer, then contact the technical support staff at your Internet service provider.
- What’s the big deal?
Intellectual property industries, like film, television and computer software, are central to the health and stability of the U.S. economy. The film and television industry alone supports more than 2.4 million American jobs each year, contributes $15 billion in taxes which help pay for schools, police and other community priorities, and generates $180 billion in total wages and payments annually in our nation’s economy.
Who pays when movies are stolen? Local movie theaters, mom and pop video stores, the writers, actors and other artists who contribute to the movies we love, and the stuntmen, make-up artists, grips and other production crew members who depend on a healthy industry for their jobs and their families’ income.
Film theft also has an enormous impact on movie fans around the world. Quality movies and television shows are expensive to produce. In fact, six out of 10 movies never break even and recover the cost of making and marketing the film. If movies are routinely stolen and distributed over the Internet or on illegal CDs, then it becomes less likely that people will invest in the big, high-quality films and TV shows we love.
Fortunately, copyrights also make it possible for consumers to enjoy their favorite film and TV shows legally. Millions of consumers now watch TV shows online and for free. Low-cost online rentals of films also are becoming quite popular. These options offer flexibility to the consumer, while also ensuring we can continue to enjoy great film and TV in the future. Infringing copyright is against the law and increasingly easy to detect. These violations can result in serious fines and even criminal prosecution. In short, it’s not worth it.
Want the latest information on the many legal ways to enjoy movies and television? Click here.
- Where can I get the movies and TV shows that I want online legally?
There are a multitude of legal, affordable and even free places where you can find high-quality and premium programming how and when you want it. Please click here for a list of a number of legal and safe sites where content is available for downloading and streaming.
The major Hollywood studios are committed to a safe, legal online environment where consumers have many choices for viewing the movies and TV shows they love, and they are constantly developing new ways to deliver their content to you. To learn more, click here.
- I believe that someone else may have used my Internet access without my knowledge or approval. How can I secure my Internet access?
In general, most consumer grade network hardware has security features that, when properly configured, can make it very difficult if not impossible for someone to use your Internet access without your knowledge. Due to the variety of computers and their network connections, network hardware vendors do not enable or pre-configure these security features and instead leave that responsibility to you, the consumer. If you acquired your network hardware (wired or wireless router) from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) when you subscribed to your Internet service they can help you configure the security features; please contact the technical support department at your ISP. If you acquired your network hardware on your own the following information will help you secure your Internet access.
There are two ways that your computer can be connected to modern broadband (DSL or Cable) networks: wired or wireless.
- If you have a wired connection, the person must have been physically inside your home or other place where your network is located and must have connected their computer directly in order to use your Internet access. So it is important for you to ensure that you secure your network properly and to ensure that you only provide the necessary password and other permissions to people who you wish to use your network.
- If you have a wireless connection,
and it is not secured properly, it would be possible for someone to connect to your network from outside your home or other physical location where your network is situated – for example from a car parked close by or from a neighbor’s home. This is the most common reason that people receive notices from their ISPs even though they are certain that nobody within their household or group of authorized users has participated in any illegal uploading or downloading activity. So it is important for you to secure your network properly to ensure that no unauthorized person will be able to access it without your permission. What follows are several suggestions for improving security of your wireless network.
By connecting all computers to a wireless router, you can provide Internet access to more than one computer with both wired and wireless. The router masks all connected computers visibility on the public Internet making it more difficult to hack any of them. There are several security features that can be enabled to enhance the security of your network. Refer to the documentation that came with your hardware or the manufacturer’s technical support website for more information on configuring these and other settings:
Configure your Router’s access settings: Usually found in the administration area of the router’s configuration software. Typically you want to enable local access and disable remote access to the router’s administration software so that changes can be made from computers within the local network only. Use a complex password and don’t share it.
Network Address Server Settings (DHCP): Limit the number of DHCP clients. If you have 5 devices you don’t need 100 DHCP addresses, set this to some reasonable number more than the number of devices you have. Always use private non-routable addresses such as 10.x.x.x, 172.x.x.x, or 192.168.x.x. Most consumer routers are pre-configured to use the 192.168.x.x address scheme.
Wireless access points and cable/DSL routers make it easier for hackers to get into your network and computers without having to get into your house. Sitting in a car across the street with a wireless enabled laptop and some software, freely available on the Internet, someone could break in. Here are some steps that can be taken to make it significantly more difficult:
If possible, place the wireless router or access point in a location that is central and the lowest point within your home. This will focus the signal upwards and cause the signal to be weak outside the home.
Change the default password in your wireless router or access point. For example, the supplied default admin password in all LinkSys routers is “admin”. Many consumers never change this making it easy for someone to use your network without your knowledge.
Change the default SSID name. For example, the supplied default SSID in all LinkSys wireless products is “linksys”. Many consumers never change this making it easy for someone to use your network without your knowledge.
Disable SSID broadcast, that way someone would have to guess the name of your wireless network in order to join it.
Update to the latest firmware available from the manufacturer. Many times the manufacturer adds new security features or patches problems with the previous version’s security features.
Enable wireless security. Use WPA if available instead of WEP which is prone to attack.
It is highly recommended that you install and maintain security software that includes Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, Anti-Spam and Personal Firewall features on all computers.
Security Software Manufacturers:
Google Search: How to secure a wireless home network
Setting-Up Wireless Security on a Linksys Router
How to Secure Your Wireless Home Network
10 Tips for Wireless Home Network Security
Cisco PureNetworks: http://www.purenetworks.com/