Downloading videos of copyrighted material for free, without permission of the copyright owner, is legally called infringement and is prohibited by law, states New Media Rights. Such actions can lead to lawsuits against the individual downloading the copyrighted material. Previous defendants in such infringement cases have been required to pay damages for each illegal download, adding up to substantial amounts of money.
The Internet technology that allows users to share video files is not illegal, claims New Media Rights. Copyright law application depends on how viewers watch videos and the types of videos they watch. If the video is protected material under copyright and has been posted by another user, the user watching the video remains within the bounds of copyright law if he streams the video to watch it. The person who has posted the video, however, has broken the law.
A user infringes on the video's copyright if he takes any action to reproduce or distribute that video, explains New Media Rights. Even if there is no attempt to profit from the action or to distribute the material that has been reproduced, once protected material has been downloaded to the user's hard drive, the user has committed infringement. This opens up the user to legal action, even if the infringement was unintentional.