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Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

We’re lucky to live in a time when technology can make a great portion of our lives simpler. These days, people can pay bills online automatically instead of mailing checks, send gifts to loved ones without ever visiting a store, and even download music and movies from the comfort of their own homes. This growth in and reliance upon technology has given way to an entrepreneur-oriented market and spurred many to explore ideas or hidden talents that may have otherwise been discouraging.

Unfortunately, this sort of growth has also urged people who would take advantage of others’ hard work. With soaring demand for access to certain methods of entertainment, in particular, many creators, inventors, and artists are not as able to profit from their own work as much as they might like. In the digital age, especially, where almost every format of entertainment is readily available for download, many have found ways to exploit piracy to save themselves money while enjoying full-length films, entire musical soundtracks, digital books and audio books among others.

Some might justify themselves by stating that it’s only a few dollars out of a massive paycheck for directors, actors, musical artists and authors. That their downloading of digital media is not a hard hit to the industry. And they would be right if there were only a select handful of individuals for which to account. According to one site, however, file-sharing has been on a fairly consistent rise in North America with projections of over 1,000 petabytes of data being shared by the end of 2017. And just for perspective, one petabyte equals one million gigabytes.

That’s one billion gigabytes worth of file-sharing in North America alone.

Now, think of how many soundtracks or movies you could fit on a standard personal computer. Think of how many computers would be required to hold one billion gigabytes worth of information. Now just imagine all of the money you might be losing if it was a billion gigabytes of your work being distributed and downloaded illegally. Suddenly, that hit on the industry just got a little harder.

It would also be wise to consider that not everyone who puts out content to sell on the Internet is a millionaire by default. Perhaps big-time musical artists don’t take as big of a hit from illegal downloads. But, not everybody is a Taylor Swift or a Beyoncé. Some people are still working to get by with the idea that they put out to the Internet for exposure. Suddenly, taking their idea and finding a way to access it for free sounds a little worse.

Maybe you’re one of the unfortunate ones who has suffered a loss of profits due to methods such as digital piracy. Maybe you struggle more than you should or your idea doesn’t gain as much traction as it should due to illegal distribution of information or your ideas. Looking into assistance from an intellectual property lawyer might be a first step for you. It may not necessarily win you back any lost financial gains, but it could be a good first step to protecting future profits. Profits to which you should be entitled. Because who doesn’t like to be rewarded for their hard work or innovation?

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