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Sunday, March 5, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM



Don't let these songs land you in Sing Sing

Your teenager might never think of shoplifting a music CD. But untold thousands of kids are downloading music from so-called peer-to-peer music services — the digital equivalent of shoplifting.

If a stroll through your Web browser's history reveals visits to sites such as Grokster, Kazaa and LimeWire, chances are somebody in your house is downloading music illegally. And you could be liable for any infringement of music copyrights that occurs on your computer.

The Recording Industry Association of America has grown increasingly aggressive in suing individual consumers who are involved in illegally distributing copyrighted music. In fact, late last year, the association announced that it had sued 754 consumers, including computer network users at 12 colleges.

Penalties are especially severe for file sharers who seek to profit from illegal downloads; they can get up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Even file sharers who don't profit from their activities can be punished criminally with up to three years in prison and $250,000 in fines and civil liability for damages ranging up to $150,000 per infringement (per song).

Amy Crane,

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company





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