So what happens if you keep using MP3s to download, upload and copy music files without permisseion from the artist and label? This is the stuff you should take seriously, because like it or not, copyright infringement is against the law. It leaves you liable for civil damages and criminal fines. Even jail terms. 

Federal Laws

       U.S. Copyright Law {Title 17 U.S.C. Section 101 et seq., Title 18 U.S.C. Section 2319} protects copyright owners from the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of sound recordings, as well as certain digital performances to the public. Sound recording copyright infringements can be punishable by up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Repeat offenders can be imprisoned for up to 10 years. Individuals also may be held civilly liable to the copyright owner for actual damages or lost profits or for statutory damages up to $100,000 per infringed copyright.

                Anti-Bootleg Statute {Title 18 U.S.C. Section 2319A} criminalizes the
          unauthorized recording, manufacture, distribution or trafficking in sound recordings
          and music videos of "live" musical performances. States have similar laws. The
          federal statute carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a
          $250,000 fine.

       Civil Lawsuits When it comes to copyright infringement, civil lawsuits by copyright owners are more widespread than criminal prosecutions. And if a copyright owner successfully sues you for infringement, you might have to pay monetary damages, punitive damages, legal fees (theirs AND your own). In short, you might not go to jail, but the punishment can still be very, very expensive.

State Laws

          Nearly all states have piracy-related laws that make it a criminal offense to pirate,
          counterfeit or bootleg audio recordings. States also have unfair competition laws
          that allow record companies to protect their rights in recordings fixed (recorded)
          prior to February 15, 1972. The most commonly used state criminal laws are:

                Unauthorized Duplication Statutes
           Pirate and counterfeit sound recordings made before February 15, 1972, are
           covered by these statutes. Like federal laws, these provisions typically make it
           illegal to copy, reproduce and distribute sound recordings without proper

Information from: RIAA