I know somebody who is illegally torrenting movies and I want them to get in trouble. How do I report them? Who do I report them to?
1 Answer from Attorneys
If you know they are illegally torrenting (reproducing) the movies, then you know (a) that the movies are copyrighted and (b) that the owners of the copyrights in the movies did not give permission. So, you can certainly contact the owners of the copyrights in the torrented movies to let them know, but that in no way means the target of your wrath will get into trouble. The Copyright Act gives the copyright owners the exclusive right to reproduce or authorize the reproduction of the movies. That does not mean that the copyright owners have to go after everyone who reproduces the movies without authorization. Billions of copyright owners regularly allow their works to be reproduced without expressly granting permission but also without any interest in stopping anyone from doing so. Of course, owners of the copyrights in motion pictures generally have a stronger profit motive to stop unauthorized reproductions, but even they are free to look the other way, whenever and however often they choose. There is nothing you can do to force a copyright owner to get anyone into trouble for unauthorized reproductions. But do be aware that "torrenting" is not itself illegal. There are plenty of works that are reproduced by torrents *with* the permission of the author. Just like photocopying -- the method of reproduction is not determinative of the legality of the reproduction. So, be careful not to try to get someone into trouble for doing something that is perfectly legal. If you don't know for sure whether the copyright owner authorized the reproduction or the reproduction was made pursuant to one of the limitations on the copyright (Sections 107-122 of the Copyright Act), then you might be inviting liability upon yourself if the torrent was authorized by the copyright owner or by the Copyright Act, and the "reporting" ends up harming the target of your report.
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