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MP3 files illegal on government computers

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Angelique Smythe
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Recently, there has been an increase in MP3 files on government networks, along with increased risks of receiving "notices of infringement" or lawsuits from entertainment industry lawyers.

Free downloaded music, games, movies or other trafficked copyrighted items distributed, copied or maintained on government networks are illegal.

"There are many companies on the internet that allow people to download free copyrighted music and it has become quite an issue," said Tech. Sgt. Kimberly Owens, 36th Wing Information Assurance officer.

To protect yourself and the Air Force, remove all music from your computer. That includes those with the mp3 extension, iPods, peer-to-peer sharing devices, KaZaA, or music bought on iTunes or downloaded from CDs.

"Paying for a CD gives us the right to listen to that CD, but doesn't give us the right to copy and give it to our friend," said Sergeant Owens.

Whenever you buy that music, especially when you download a song, it tells you that you're downloading it that one time for the use of whatever you put it on in one location, she said. It's unauthorized to start copying that file into multiple locations.

"If you go home and make your own little movie and want to send it out, that's fine, because you didn't copyright it," said Sergeant Owens. "But if you get someone else's material that is copyrighted, that they're getting benefits off of, then that's when the copyright law comes in."

That law is Section 512 of Title 17 of the U.S. Code, Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act.

When a network user goes online with an illegal MP3 on their computer, there's a threat that copyright lawyers can sue the Air Force for benefits because it is allowing users the ability to do that without stopping it.

"And that's what we're here for -- to take all levels of action in stopping this," said Sergeant Owens.

The reason for pop-up banners is to inform or stop someone when they are doing something illegal. That way they cannot use the excuse "I didn't know."

Any media other than Windows Media Player on the government network needs to be removed from the computer. If caught with any, there will be consequences, such as paperwork in the Air Force or fines and jail time in the civilian world.

Suggestions for people who like to listen to music at work are to listen to their CDs in a CD drive or bring in a portable radio or portable CD drive. And if the job allows it, they can use an iPod with the iPod station.

"It just cannot come from the computer's hard drive," said Sergeant Owens.

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