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Is making money online illegal? 3 illegal Internet activities to avoid

While making money online can be done illegally, it is still perfectly legal. A tremendous amount of legitimate online transactions occur every day, and some of the most reputable agencies look to the Web for hosting their profitable services.

The majority of the biggest banks allow you to pay credit card bills online. Almost every department store - Wal-Mart, Kmart, Macy's, J.C. Penney and Sears just to name a few - allow customers to shop on the Internet. Even the Internal Revenue Service, which is responsible for investigating suspicious businesses, encourages thousands of Americans to file taxes online electronically, often requiring a payment to a software provider for filing with a particular state.

Yet, there are individuals who take to the Web to launch illegal sites and earn money, too. Here are just a few examples.

Online gambling
After visiting Las Vegas or playing slots at a casino, you may want to continue a hot streak on the World Wide Web, but the FBI doesn't suggest doing so. Gambling online is illegal in all areas of the U.S.

"You can go to Vegas. You can go to Atlantic City. You can go to a racetrack. You can go to those places and gamble legally. But don't do it online. It's against the law," Leslie Bryant, head of the Cyber Crime Fraud unit at FBI Headquarters, said.

Aside from a few fantasy sports leagues, free online games and Indian gaming sites, the act of gambling online is illegal, so think twice before you place that bet.

Downloading TV shows and movies
Millions of people use Netflix and HBOGo to watch some of their favorite shows and movies, but some individuals dodge those monthly fees by streaming or downloading content online. In fact, HBO's "Game of Thrones" became the most pirated TV show of the spring season in 2013, and has held onto the title until now, according to The Telegraph. Its season three premiere was downloaded illegally by 5.2 million people around the world, according to an analysis by TorrentFreak. 

Worse yet, many people become confused about downloading or streaming media from the Web, which leaves them liable to break the law without knowing it. This isn't often the excuse perpetrators who host media illegally on torrent sites use, though. These organizations often use their webpages to display advertisements and turn a profit as well.

Uploading copywritten material to YouTube 
You've probably heard about some YouTube stars getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for creating content that collects a lot of views. Some of these people choose to host other people's content instead of their own, though. This often violates copyright laws and can lead to legal action. However, you can upload the same material and give commentary, parody a performance or critique a small element of it to achieve protection under the doctrine of fair use, according to the U.S. Copyright Office. Even this sort of material must follow specific guidelines, however.

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