Dodgy music downloading in workplace up by half

New data suggests that there has been a significant increase in non-legal MP3 and software download attempts on enterprise networks.

According to data from online security firm ScanSafe, the last three months of 2009 saw a 55 per cent increase to music content downloading using computers and Internet access provided by employers.

The trend highlight a growing risk for employers in the light of recent US prosecutions of individuals for the downloading of illegal copies of digital music files.

Employer can be held legally responsible for wrongful acts committed by an employee ‘in the course of their employment’, ScanSafe warns – and an act may be considered ‘in the course of employment’ even if it is expressly prohibited by the employer, a principle known as ‘vicarious liability’. Even if a legal claim is unsuccessful, dealing with claims can make substantial demands on corporate time and resources, as well as involve significant legal costs.   

“Consumers have over the years taken a carefree approach to illegally downloading music, not expecting to be held accountable for their actions,” says ScanSafe director of product management Spencer Parker. “High-speed Internet connections have enabled even faster illegal downloads and alarmingly, more and more people are choosing to do so in the workplace. Inappropriate Internet use in the workplace can put the employer at risk for legal liabilities”  

Employees mistakenly assume that they can use the Internet at work in exactly the same way as they use it at home, Parker adds, and this is, potentially, one of the reasons for this steady increase in illegal download attempts over recent months.

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