When someone mentions theft, you will probably think of a shoplifter being caught at the mall or a group of juvenile delinquents stealing a car. Surprisingly, it may be a lot simpler than you think. There are always criminal cases being held regarding murder, theft, and perjury, but do you know that you may even be committing a civil crime when you are copying and pasting an essay or downloading music from the internet? Metallica, a talented heavy metal band (particularly Lars and James), was outraged at the fact that consumers, or potential customers, were able to download their music on the internet for free. They filed a lawsuit against Napster in the US District Court, Central District of California, Circuit 9, alleging that the company encouraged piracy by allowing its users to trade copyrighted songs through its servers. According to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, the suit accused Napster of: copyright infringements, unlawful usage of digital audio interface device, and the violation of the Racketeering Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
Most musicians earn their living from record sales, performing in concerts, and making commercials. If fans are able to download all of Metallica's songs for free, what's the point in buying Metallica albums? On the other hand, essays are difficult to write, so copying someone else's work and turning it in as your own is probably easier. Plagiarism is the act of passing off another's work as your own, the stealing of one's creative work, as described in The United States Code Annotated, Title 17 (1996). Plagiarism not only violates the rights of an author by theft of intellectual creativity, but also hinders a student's literary imagination by limiting his or her ability to produce adequate literature. Plagiarism happens very often and is illegal.