The Negative Effects of Internet Copyright & Privacy Breaches

By Andy Walton

Internet copyright and privacy breaches can leave your wallet empty and your reputation bruised. With online file sharing as pervasive as ever and personal details often strewn across the Web for all to read, it's never been easier to infringe on someone's intellectual property or private information. Knowing the negative effects of these breaches is the first step toward making the Internet a fairer and safer place.

Creatives Lose Out

Breaches of copyright result in lost earnings for content creators. The value of many creative works, especially those with limited merchandising potential such as nonfiction books or photographs, is entirely contained in their intellectual property. If that value is reduced by sharing a work online as soon as it is published, it is the work's creator who is hit first. Ultimately, less money flowing through creative industries could negatively affect the quantity and quality of works on offer.

Identity Theft

Online privacy breaches are a direct precursor to identity theft. Oversharing personal details on social networking sites has made it increasingly easy for fraudsters to access online accounts without needing to resort to complex hacking procedures. Often, breaching a Facebook or email account will provide criminals with all the information they need to impersonate someone online, allowing them to make fraudulent payments, request credit using someone else's credit history or even set up fake bank accounts using that person's details.

Reputation Damage

Hacked social media accounts are often used to send spam or abusive messages to other users of that network. Even after control of that account is regained, it can be difficult to clarify which posts were sent by fraudsters and which weren't, turning a privacy breach into a reputation problem. Copyright breaches can give the impression that the content creator or distributor didn't value their intellectual property enough to protect it, leading some consumers to question why they should still pay for the work.

Prices Go Up

Money lost from online copyright breaches could mean that content creators need to increase their prices to make ends meet. In addition, creators, distributors or individuals may need to launch legal proceedings to prevent further violations of their intellectual property or personal information. Five-figure lawyer's bills are fairly commonplace in copyright cases, and it is likely to be the consumer who loses out as companies increase the price of their products to cover their legal fees.