The Internet hosts a wealth of information and computer users can find virtually anything from term papers to entertainment on the Web. While many files, including music, movie, and software files, are freely available on the Internet, the unauthorized downloading of copyrighted material may well constitute copyright infringement if done without the permission of the copyright holder.
Nearly all current content available on the Internet is subject to copyright protection from its moment of creation. The best protection from any claims of copyright infringement is to not download or share copyrighted content unless it is from a source where you know that the copyright owner has given his or her permission for you to download or share the content or is allowable under the exceptions to the US Copyright law such as fair use. Unless you have explicit permission from the copyright owner to copy, download, or share the material, you should consider it copyright protected and refrain from downloading it or sharing it. There are many sites on the Internet that offer the opportunity to legally purchase (and in some cases download for free) music, movies, and games.
EDUCAUSE has compiled a web site that references sources of legal alternatives for downloading media content.
The recording industry also publishes a web site which includes pointers to sources of legal music on the Internet.
The Motion Picture Association of America Copyright Education Website
University Chicago Guidelines on How to Disable Peer-to-Peer Services