Copyright and File Sharing

NOTE:  It is illegal to share copyrighted materials outside the permission(s) granted by the copyright holder.

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Source: Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_infringement


To: All Pepperdine University Faculty, Students, and Staff

From: Jonathan See, Chief Information Officer

Date: January 12, 2015

Re: Your PERSONAL legal risks related to sharing of copyrighted files

The purpose of this memorandum is to notify you of your personal legal risks related to the sharing of copyrighted files. In short, if you download or share copyrighted files without the owner’s permission, you are breaking the law. These actions place you and your family at risk of facing serious consequences.

To that end, all Pepperdine faculty, staff, and students are responsible for knowing and understanding the contents of this memorandum on file sharing risks.

Some people may believe that recreational file sharing is likely to go unnoticed and that their activity on the Internet is largely anonymous or untraceable. This is not the case. It is illegal to share copyrighted music, videos, computer games, and software files over the Internet without the owner’s permission.

It is critical that you understand the following:

  • Pepperdine University cannot protect you from potential copyright-holder lawsuits, nor can it defend or represent you if a lawsuit is filed.
  • Illegal sharing using Internet access provided by Pepperdine violates the University’s Computer and Network Responsible Usage policy. When Pepperdine receives notice that you have used the University’s network to engage in unlawful file sharing, disciplinary action will be taken.
  • If you send or receive copyrighted files using peer-to-peer file sharing programs, you are most likely breaking the law. This is true even if you do not know you are sharing files; most file-sharing software uploads files from your computer by default.
  • You cannot have anything on your computer for which you do not have the legal rights. Before you download anything for free, research whether the copyright owner has licensed you the right to download the file.

What should you do today?

  1. You should delete any illegally obtained files and any file sharing software from your computers and devices.
  2. You should always use legal download or streaming services to obtain music, videos, and software.

Included below is information that you should know about copyright infringement and the associated legal and University penalties for engaging in it.

Thank you for your attention to this information.

***

What Constitutes Copyright Infringement?

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.

The laws that govern copyright are not specific to any one technology or type of work. For example, file uploading and downloading can result in a violation of copyright law, which protects songs, videos, games, textbooks, and any other type of creative content.

Any of the following activities can be violations of copyright law:

  • Uploading (or downloading) images, music, movies, television shows, E-books, or other copyrighted material through the use of peer-to-peer technology
  • Converting copyrighted material, such as videos found on YouTube, to an MP3 file
  • Purchasing a CD or DVD and then making copies for others.

You cannot have anything on your computer that you do not own, and you cannot share any file for which you do not have the legal rights. Before you download anything for free, you should research if the source provides material licensed by the copyright owner.

Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws

Individuals who engage in copyright violations, even unintentionally, can be subject to civil and criminal penalties. Anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement can be ordered to pay either actual damages or “statutory” damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed.

For “willful” infringement, a court can award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, at its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys’ fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505. Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense. For more information, please see the website of the U.S. Copyright Office at http://www.copyright.gov, especially their FAQs at http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/.

University Penalties for Unauthorized File Sharing

Unauthorized distribution or receipt of copyrighted material is a violation of Pepperdine University’s Computer and Network Responsible Usage policy (http://community.pepperdine.edu/it/security/policies/usagepolicy.htm). Upon receipt of a copyright violation notice, the computer sharing the copyrighted files will be blocked on the Pepperdine network and the individual’s dean or supervisor will be notified; additional violations can result in further academic and/or administrative disciplinary action. Technical staff members are required to review the computer and certify that sharing of copyrighted materials is stopped and that all file sharing programs are removed.

For more information about the legal and policy issues surrounding file sharing and for information regarding legal alternatives for downloading copyrighted materials, please visit http://filesharing.pepperdine.edu.