What Are the Laws Regarding Downloading TV Episodes for Free?


Quick Answer

People downloading television episodes without permission of the individuals or networks that own the shows are guilty of copyright infringement, reports the U.S. Copyright Office. The owners of the copyrights have the right to sue those who illegally download episodes and obtain statutory damages.

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What Are the Laws Regarding Downloading TV Episodes for Free?
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Full Answer

People are only allowed to download, display, reproduce or distribute any copyrighted work, such as TV episodes, if the copyright owner gives specific permission, explains the U.S. Copyright Office. Since a work is copyrighted as soon as it is fixed in a tangible medium, whether or not it is available, consumers can assume that copyright protects every created work unless it is accompanied by a clear notice to the contrary. People can purchase and download or view TV episodes from authorized sources, but downloading them from peer-to-peer networks or other unauthorized sources is illegal and punishable.

If a copyright owner proves infringement of exclusive copyrights, a court may award damages of up to $30,000 for each infringed work, as of 2015, warns the U.S. Copyright Office. If the copyright owner proves willful infringement, the penalty may go up to $150,000 for each TV episode. The person found guilty of infringement of copyright may also have to pay the attorney costs of the copyright owner.

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