Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Three Laws You Might Be Breaking Without Even Knowing It:
#1.) Connecting to an Unsecure Wi-Fi Network. It was illegal before you even knew the Internet EXISTED. Congress passed the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in 1986, and made it a FEDERAL CRIME to gain unauthorized access to a computer or a website. And they specifically included wireless routers too. They just don't enforce it. But in at least four documented cases . . . in Florida, Illinois, Michigan, and Alaska . . . people HAVE been arrested for using someone else's Internet.
#2.) Singing "Happy Birthday To You" in Public. You've probably heard it's copyrighted . . . which is why you almost never hear it in movies or TV shows. But technically, ANYONE can get sued for copyright infringement if they sing it in a public place where, quote, "a substantial number of persons" can hear it . . . not counting your friends and family singing with you. In fact, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers once told the Girl Scouts of America that if they wanted to keep singing it at birthday parties, they'd have to pay ROYALTIES. They ended up backing off though . . . because suing the Girl Scouts would've made them look downright evil. The song was originally copyrighted by a publishing company in 1935, but Time Warner owns it now. And they make about $2 million dollars off it every year.
#3.) Playing Fantasy Football with Your Friends. But only if there's A LOT of money at stake. According to the Illegal Gambling Act of 1970, any betting that violates state or local law and involves five or more people is technically an illegal gambling ring. But only if $2,000 or more exchanges hands in one day. So that means if you win your high-stakes fantasy football league this year and get a big check in the mail, you could technically get up to TEN YEARS in prison.