Many classic types of crimes are relatively easy to define, including theft, drug and violent crimes. Other criminal activities can be more difficult by nature to track and, for some people, to recognize as crimes. Like some North Dakota residents, you might commit a crime online without realizing it. Intellectual property crime is one of the ways this might occur.

To protect yourself from being accused of a crime, you should understand what intellectual property crime entails. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, criminal activity involving intellectual property includes anything that robs or infringes upon the rights of those who own this type of property. Intellectual property includes the inventions, ideas and creative expressions of others. This may range from music, software and video games to movies, short stories and novels.

It can be easy to commit an intellectual property crime over the Internet because of the widespread availability of file sharing, including cloud storage, music streaming services and websites devoted to hosting stories. For example, some people have been accused of infringement by stealing an author’s stories posted online and claiming them as their own. Others might download movies or music illegally without realizing there are serious legal consequences.

It’s important to understand that although it may be tempting to think you are doing nothing wrong, intellectual property crime is taken seriously by authorities. This information is meant to educate you on the points regarding this type of crime, but should not be substituted for the advice of a lawyer.