The Herald, August 19 — A woman has been ordered to pay more than £16,000 for illegally downloading a computer game over the internet in one of the first indications that games manufacturers are likely to take the same aggressive stance as music and film companies in pursuing alleged copyright violations.
The payout follows similarly large awards against individuals who have downloaded software, songs and movies via peer-to-peer networking websites, and has been granted despite government-backed attempts to reach a deal between computer users and entertainment companies.
One of the beautiful things about the state of the Internet today is that there is both a metric gigaton of content to download and the bandwidth necessary to get it. In years past things like Napster and Limewire, software that is designed for one computer on the Internet to share files with other computers on the Internet, seemed almost necessary to get the latest song, video, or piece of software off of the web. The problems inherent in using those sorts of methods—slow connections, the possibility of viruses, and the legality of such file sharing—were overshadowed by the lack of alternate ways to get what you want online.
Of course, there are people for whom legality isn’t a concern. Those folks will continue to use so called peer-to-peer software, especially since that’s what they’re used to and despite the fact that they will continue to risk infections and incomplete files. For those of you that are seeking media online and want it to be legal and virus-free, there is hope.
So where do you begin to look for legal, safe content? How do you tell if it’s legitimate? Much of that really depends on what exactly you’re looking for, but there are a few things to consider generally.
The first rule of thumb: if it seems too good to be true, it usually is. Free mainstream content isn’t likely to be available. Artists, producers, and all the folks working to put art out there are doing it to make money. Now sometimes that can come through ad revenue, so you may not always have to pay money, but that is the exception for mainstream media. Now, there is a fair amount of content out there that is free; but odds are good it’s from someone you’ve never heard of.
The second thing I like to do is consider the source. If it’s coming directly from the artist’s website or the distribution company (in the event that the author isn’t also the distributor), then it’s probably legitimate. There are plenty of third-party sites that act as distributors, some of which are on the level and others that aren’t. Later on I’ll give a few examples of the good guys.
If you keep those first two things in your mind as you poke around the Internet, it will help you sniff out the more obvious problems.