Guide: Stay legal online – top tips!

With one of the top legal problems being illegal downloads over the internet, you need to be aware of what could happen if your internet connection is tracked down as being illegal. It could go as far as court, and if you (being the bill payer) are found guilty of running illegal downloads of your internet connection you could be subject to thousands (if not millions) of pounds in fines. It doesn’t have to be you downloading the illegal files – it could be a family member, a friend using your wi-fi, or somebody in your neighbourhood stealing your wi-fi connection. And as far as ISPs are concerned, it is your problem – no matter who actually downloaded the illegal content.

So, to make your life a little easier and to avoid the risk of ending up in court, GEEK! has compiled some top tips to stay legal online…

  • Make sure your wi-fi is secured – you don’t want people stealing your wi-fi and downloading illegal files without you being aware of it. Remember, it’s your problem even if somebody else downloading something illegal on your network. You can easily secure your wi-fi network with a password by going to your router configuration. You’ll probably need to refer to your router’s instruction manual, but it should only be a 5-10 minute job.
  • Check that yourself or other family members aren’t illegally downloading. Check computers in your home – if any of them have programs such as Limewire or Vuze installed, users of that computer may well be downloading illegal files such as music or films. Teenagers are the most common users of illegal filesharing software so make sure you check their computer systems. Ask your family members where they are getting their music from. If they are purchasing it from stores such as iTunes, 7digital or Napster they are OK, but if they are downloading it from illegal P2P (peer to peer) software you are at risk.
  • Actively encourage your family members that copyrighted content should be paid for. Remind them that illegally downloading copyrighted music and video is the same as shoplifting sweets. It might only be an 80p song they are downloading for free, but the consequences of that could be immense.
  • Remember that downloading commercial software via P2P software is also illegal.
  • Avoid Bittorrent software/sites. Although some of the content on Bittorrent sites is legal, the majority of it isn’t. Any copyright music, video, TV shows, films, software (etc) that is download from bittorrent could result in legal issues so it’s best to just avoid P2P altogether. In addition, constantly using P2P software is likely to result in problems with your ISP (internet service provider) as P2P uses large amounts of bandwidth very quickly.
  • Buy your music, TV shows and films legally. If you want to get your music and video online legally, the best way of doing so if using services such as iTunes, 7digital or Napster (all of these are legal – including Napster as it was made legal many years ago). If you’re not sure how to get your digital content legally, just go to a high street shop and purchase it there. There are still tonnes of high street stores selling digital content and it is the best way to get legal content as you can be 100% sure that what you are buying has been paid for properly.
  • Don’t have a credit card to purchase content online? There’s plenty of ways around that. For example, you can purchase iTunes gift cards from most digital content stores with cash, which you simply redeem at home with your iTunes account. You are then free to spend whatever gift card you buy on whatever you want. In addition, 7digital offers pay by SMS which allows you to redeem vouchers for songs online – this is perfect if you are under 18 years of age.

Those tips are the best ways to avoid legal trouble with your internet connection. Use them well and remember that you only have to download illegal content once to end up in trouble.gui

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