The PA dish on illegal downloading

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany - According to the 52nd Fighter Wing Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, downloading media onto a government system violates Article 92 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice and failure to obey an order or regulation. Punishment for this includes confinement for up to six months. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Senior Airman Nick Wilson)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany - According to the 52nd Fighter Wing Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, downloading media onto a government system violates Article 92 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice – failure to obey an order or regulation. Punishment for this offense may include confinement for up to six months. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Senior Airman Nick Wilson)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- The 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs office encountered several stories across the base and beyond about people illegally downloading various media off the Internet, both at work and at home. Having a personal stake in media and its use both for personal and professional benefits, these PA Airmen decided to provide their own take on this issue and its effects.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Bright - How one Airman's story changed my habits

While in technical school, some friends and I were talking about which Peer-to-Peer downloading program was better, i.e. free, fast and anonymous. One of the girls stayed quiet until we asked her directly.

She said she didn't download anything she hadn't paid for. Of course we started to mess with her and eventually she confessed that she was one of the original kids who was sued for downloading music, movies and programs by Napster. She went on to explain how her parents - since she was a minor at the time - were held responsible with paying her charges. As I recall, they had to take out a second mortgage to pay the fine and fees. She pays them back a little bit at a time from each paycheck - probably for the rest of her life.

I'd downloaded music and movies using peer-to-peer programs before we spoke that day, and I've downloaded stuff since; however, now I pay for everything I download.

Staff Sgt. Heather Norris - The down and dirty on downloading law

New German law mandates that all wireless Internet connections be password protected or you could receive a fine.

When you sign your contract for Internet capabilities, you are accepting full responsibilities associated with your Internet Protocol address - better known as your IP address - and Internet connection. If you are deployed, vacationing or have friends or family visiting, you are responsible for their actions on your network connection. It's not just an issue if they complete an illegal download; if someone even attempts the process, you can be fined.

The fines for these crimes can reach amounts exceeding 800 euro.

When you are granted access to military computer systems, you agree to an end user license agreement. Part of this contract binds you to use the government system for official use only. If you attempt an illegal download on a government system or government-owned connection, you are not only violating German law and copyright law, but could also face punishment under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice resulting in revoked security clearances or network privileges at a minimum.

Senior Airman Nick Wilson - Pay less now, not more later

It seems thousands of people illegally download various types of media every day without getting caught. The few who do get caught have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in fees depending on how much they download. Is it worth the risk? Not at all, unless you want to be in debt for the rest of your life and devastate your credit score.

I know downloading various types of media without paying is illegal. So I don't do it. It's plain and simple. If I want to download something without the worry of driving to the store, then I'll go online and buy it because I'll take an $8 purchase over an $800 or $8,000 fine any day. Illegal downloading is out of sight and out of mind for me.

Senior Airman Clay Murray - Music hijacking, technology have messy history

Ever since Napster and the mp3 file were conceived years ago, the music and entertainment industry have evolved around concerns of proper distribution. Prior to that with the release of the CD and DVD, copying and pirating copyright information was already visible on the horizon - cases and mediums had threats of repercussion explicitly outlined in the event of customer copyright infringement. Piracy was at this point already possible, but it was not so easily committed; lifters were limited to the collections of their friends and neighbors.

It seems that since that time, illegally obtaining music or video has become ever conveniently easier. Hijackers are no longer limited to how many dusty blank CDs they have sitting underneath their desks when cousin Jane brings over her giant FYE bag. Massive, endless libraries of movies, sports, comedy, Michael Jackson and Motley Crue are so simple to find through torrents or college intranets. What is there to discourage fans hardcore and potential? The two terabytes on your hard drive are the limit. What steps will be taken next to protect copyrights?

1st Lt. Kathleen Polesnak - Just because it's easy doesn't mean it's right

By now, I think, most people know downloading is illegal. More so, most Airmen know downloading is illegal, whether it's on a personal or government computer. So why do people do it? It's easy. Clicking on your favorite song or movie is less time-consuming and costly as driving to the store or purchasing it online. As easy as it is, the penalties are harsh and real.

According to the 52nd Fighter Wing Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, downloading media onto a government system violates Article 92 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, failure to obey order or regulation, and individuals can be confined for up to six months. Basically, Article 92 covers the regulations attached to how we use our government systems, and illegally obtaining material on a government system is covered under that scope.

Besides that work wake-up call, here's one to take home. So far this year, several Airmen have been caught downloading illegally by the German government, some paying upwards of 1,000 euro in fines.

Was that remix of Lady Gaga really worth 1,000 euro or spending several weeks or months in jail? I don't think leopard-printed spandex or belting out "Poker Face" trumps financial stability and a cozy place to sleep. In the spirit of songs, I'll end with this: Don't (illegally) download. Be happy.

Staff Sgt. Benjamin Wilson - Save your sob stories and pay up

Downloading multimedia products without consent is illegal - that's why it is called "illegal downloading." If a person commits a crime with full knowledge that it is a criminal act, that person should be ready to accept responsibility. Download music and movies until the cows come home for all I care, but I don't want to hear whining when you are caught. If a person speeds in his or her car and gets caught, that person pays the ticket - the same applies here.

Also, I don't want to hear lame arguments about how the prices of CDs and DVDs are too high. Maybe prices wouldn't be so high if people bought them legitimately. Don't give me a sob story about how the record label receives the majority of the income either. That's their job and that's what they get paid for. Bands signed the label and made the agreement - not you. If you don't want to pay the record company, then listen to the radio.

Staff Sgt. Logan Tuttle - Stealing more elusive in digital world

It seems more and more things are going to a convenient 'on-the-go' type format that computers and other digital mediums have helped create. You can shop online, pay bills online or update your friends on every detail, significant or not, of your life. Movies, TV shows, games, programs and books; all found online within a few seconds. Technology has streamlined the way we've shopped and do business.

Because of this, it's also made it easier to steal. And that's what illegal downloading is. Through any one of the various means available online, 'digital shoplifters' can take as they please. I think the method has distorted people's view of the crime itself. Shoplifting in a store involves hiding items, sometimes with security tags and gates, surveillance cameras, prying eyes of law abiding citizens, and police and guards. On your computer, you log on, simply search for whatever it is you're looking for, and few clicks later you're stealing it. But the simplicity doesn't justify the act. It's nothing more than a modern, digitalized form of theft.