Intellectual property can include books, art, music, trademarks, designs and video games. The government offers various protect for this type of property that allows you exclusive rights to use and sell it. If someone else uses or tries to claim your work as his or her own, you have rights to stop that person. If this happens, it is a crime that falls under the category of white collar crime in North Carolina and any other state.

The FBI explains the theft of intellectual property is not always straightforward. A good example is downloading a song from a file sharing network. You may not realize that this is theft. You have just become a white collar criminal because you did not pay the artist or creator for access to that music file. It is a very easy mistake to make.

One misunderstanding about white collar crimes is that they do not have a victim. This is because they are a non-violent crime, but there are still victims. In the case of the music file, the artist, producer and others who helped in creating the piece lose out on the money you would have paid if you bought the music. Such crimes can cost the music industry millions of dollars each year.

Intellectual property theft harms businesses and that trickles down to consumers. Those people paying for music end up paying more to make up for those who do not. The same is true for any type of intellectual property, such as movies, books and video games. This information is for education and is not legal advice.