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File sharing breaks federal laws

File sharing is something many college students do without even thinking about whether or not it is wrong. They exchange songs, movies and many other digital files, passing them around after only one person has paid for them. This is something that's been going on for decades at this point, but it's now easier than ever.

At the University of Wisconsin, there is a rule that prohibits this practice. If students are found in violation of this rule, the school may take action.

However, what many students don't realize is that this goes above and beyond school rules and regulations. It also breaks federal laws. This means that the result can be far worse than just being suspended or even expelled from school, or losing access to the school's wireless network. Students may have to pay federal fines and face other punishments.

The problem with file sharing is that it is very much a type of theft. Since there are not any physical items, though, students often don't think of it the same way. Students who would never think of walking into a store, putting a CD in their pocket, and walking back out will still not think twice about downloading the same CD onto their hard drive.

In order to raise awareness for the seriousness of this crime, the steps that the school can take, and the fact that real federal laws may be broken, the University of Wisconsin has put up a post about file sharing on its website.

If you've been accused of computer crimes, even if you didn't know they were crimes, make sure you know about your legal options.

Source: University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, "Copyright Information," accessed July 16, 2015

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