In contrast to what many people think, the internet has rules. There are laws written specifically for the internet. The question is whether internet users understand these laws and whether they are willing to obey them. Unlike in the old days of the internet when people thought the internet to be a completely different world where they had the freedom to say and do whatever they pleased online, today we know better. Everything that you do on the internet can come back to haunt you in the real world. For example, every internet user should know that making damaging comments on the internet can get them sued. Just ask Jane Perez who is being sued for $750,000 in a defamation case regarding a negative review she wrote on Yelp!.

Whatever you say or do on the internet (even “anonymously”) can have a tremendous effect on other people. These internet laws are not all bad though because they play a very important role of protecting you and your money when you do financial deals via the internet. These laws state (in part) that whenever you send threatening emails or messages to someone, you can be legally prosecuted. Similar laws apply to bullying, harassing or making racist remarks about other people via the internet.

This means that you need to think twice before you do anything on the internet that you wouldn’t normally do off the internet. As an internet user, you should also be aware of internet copyright laws. Most of us like copying things from the internet; we assume that all images and videos on the internet can be copied for our own uses. But be careful with this assumption, and keep in mind that the image or video belongs to the original artist who made it. This means that you should seek permission from them to use or copy their image or video. There are many things covered by copyright on the internet including music, images, software, graphic designs and web pages.

When you seek permission to use the copyrighted material, the owner might allow you to use it for free, license or sell it to you. Whatever you do, don’t be fooled by the large number of material on the internet seemingly sitting there waiting for you to take them. Similarly, don’t post copyrighted material that doesn’t belong to you as you might get yourself sued by the copyright owner. Use of copyrighted material is infringement and can lead to prosecution.

Remember what you say on the internet too can be seen by other people who know you including your children, family, friends and employer. Being careless online could end up costing you respect, money or even your job.

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