KIM KOMANDO

You might be breaking the law online and not even know it

Dec 26, 2021, 5:00 AM
(Unsplash Photo)...
(Unsplash Photo)
(Unsplash Photo)

If you’ve ever uploaded a video to YouTube, you know how fast it will be flagged if there’s even a hint of a copyrighted song playing in the background.

If you’re shaking your head, you’re not alone. There are many things you shouldn’t do online. Some are just plain dangerous. Tap or click for five silly mistakes putting your online privacy and security at risk.

Benign actions can put your info in the hands of clever criminals. Take your phone number. Tap or click for why you need to stop sharing your real phone number with anyone who asks.

Before we dive into my list of illegal online activities, I must remind you: I’m not a lawyer. Use your best judgment.

Getting movies for free

This illegal activity shouldn’t be a surprise. Downloading a movie — or album, eBook, audiobook, or another piece of media — from a torrenting site is a no-go. You hear a lot less about torrenting than in years past, given how easy it is to stream just about anything.

Still, people flock to download copies of newly released movies. Go to a torrenting site, hit download, and you’re just as likely to get a shaky, dubbed version of what you want to watch as you are the real thing.

It could get worse. Watch the mail for a warning notice when your ISP detects you have downloaded copyright-protected content. If you don’t knock it off, they could cancel your service altogether as well as alert the authorities.

Here’s something else to consider. Torrents are a common vector for spreading malware. Stay safe and only use reputable apps and services that have the right to show you what you want to watch.

Tap or click for 13 tried and true ways to watch movies for free.

Using images on your site or videos

Unless you have express permission or know for sure that a photo is in the public domain, it’s not yours to use or share online. It’s unlikely you’re going to get nailed for copyright infringement by posting a meme on Facebook. However, be especially careful when posting images to your website or using images in your videos.

At best, you’ll get a slap on the wrist. At worst, you could end up with a bill for tens of thousands of dollars for posting someone else’s work without permission or credit.

If you’re going to Google Images, typing in a search term, and pulling down the best photos that pop up, you’re going to get into trouble eventually. Tap or click for free, legal ways to find solid images for any purpose.

Bypassing paywalls

Years ago, you could access most news sites online for free. Today, you’re hit with paywalls on most major sites. Some of us get out our credit cards and often pay for the sites we visit.

Others find clever ways around the paywalls, like browser extensions or other tricks. Before you celebrate, know that it’s illegal. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act says you cannot go around technology meant to restrict access to copyrighted material.

Sharing passwords

Raise your hand if you have ever shared a password for a streaming service or other subscription. Not only is that against the terms you agreed to when you signed up, but it might also be illegal. Depending on how you interpret it, the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act implies using someone else’s passwords is a federal crime.

Now, don’t expect Netflix to come knocking at your door. Things are changing. Netflix is starting to stop people from mooching off accounts.

Are you spending too much money on subscription services? Tap or click for your action plan to cut back.

Using particular search terms

There are some things you should not search for online. You can guess, but the list includes child abuse materials, hiring the services of a criminal and steps to make a bomb.

Then there are the things you should never Google for other reasons. Tap or click for a list of search terms that could put you at risk online.

Downloading YouTube videos

Maybe you find a video that perfectly explains a subject you’re trying to learn. You download the video so you can reference it again later. No harm, right? Not so fast.

According to YouTube’s terms of service, you cannot download content without express permission from the creator. And, of course, standard copyright laws apply, too.

Videos that fall into the Public Domain, Creative Commons and CopyLeft are fair game for downloading, though you could still be violating YouTube’s Terms of Service.

Stick to adding videos you want to come back to to a playlist. Tap or click for some simple YouTube tricks you’ll use again and again.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

Kim Komando

(Pexels Photo)...
Kim Komando

5 genius hacks to do on your tech before it’s February

It’s a new year, and we’re busy setting goals and making resolutions. One of mine is to spend at least an hour outside every day. Of course, I still have work to do, and much of that happens via email. I started 2022 by cleaning up my inbox. Tap or click for the steps I […]
19 hours ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Kim Komando

Here are 10 ways to lock down those new gadgets

Ah, a shiny new tech toy. In the eyes of a hacker, that’s a great way into your home’s network. Most people don’t realize how important it is to properly secure your internet connection and router from snoops, hackers, and moochers.
7 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Kim Komando

How to find your phone when it’s lost and even if battery is dead

When it comes to finding your phone, there are better ways than shouting for someone else in the house to call you.
8 days ago
(Unsplash Photo)...
Kim Komando

Simple ways to stop advertisers from following you online

We all know that prickling feeling when we see an ad online or on our phone for something we just talked about with a friend. Your internet behavior dictates the ads you see.
15 days ago
(Pixabay Photo)...
Kim Komando

How to know if someone actually read your text

When it comes to texts, it’s nice to know if your message went through and the person read it. Here are ways you can know for sure.
20 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Kim Komando

Here’s what you can do when your computer freezes

If you only restart your computer when it crashes or needs to update, that’s not enough to get the best performance.
22 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

HVAC upkeep in Arizona saves money, keeps families prepared in the long run

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 27: Wide receivers John Brown #12 and Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona C...
Arizona Department of Gaming

The most memorable games in Arizona sports history every fan needs to know

Sports teams in Arizona have seen their fair share of instant classic games, but there's a few that every fan needs to know.
...
PNC BANK

How your family can explore the Musical Instrument Museum

Whether you want to spend a day with family, do crafts with kids at home, or have an adult night out, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix has options. As the world’s only global musical instrument museum, MIM offers interactive and immersive exhibits to foster an appreciation of different cultures and their instruments. “A visit […]
You might be breaking the law online and not even know it