Copyright and File Sharing
Enforcing the laws regulating the use of copyrighted music, movies, software and other intellectual property is not discretionary. When a representative of a copyright holder notifies Furman University about violators on our campus we are obliged to make sure the illegal file sharing stops. If you share files illegally, you are not only subject to losing your network privileges, you may also be subject to prosecution in criminal and/or civil court.
University students, faculty and staff all have a large stake in the performance of our network and how file sharing effects your Internet bandwidth. Not only is the practice of downloading most copyrighted media illegal, it can also consume a disproportionate share of network resources. Furman University does not support the theft of copyrighted material, and the University uses packet shaping technology to help deter illegal file sharing between the campus network and the Internet.
Notices of copyright and intellectual property violations received by Information Technology Services involving students will be referred to Student Life for disciplinary action. Faculty violations will be sent to the Dean of Faculty. The Director of Human Resources will receive notices of staff violations. The illegal downloading or sharing of copyrighted media may result in fines, the loss of access to all network resources at Furman University, and/or criminal prosecution.
Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws
Copyright infringement is the act of exerITSing, 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.
Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may 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 may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in 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 Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at www.copyright.gov, especially their FAQ's at www.copyright.gov/help/faq.
Some frequently asked questions about copyright and file sharing
How do I know what is legal and what is not when it comes to copying music, movies and software?
Content on your personal machine that is not shared is your private property, governed by standard search and seizure protections. If you are openly sharing files that are not password protected or distributing copyrighted material in another way, you are breaking the law.
If all I do is download music files, am I breaking the law?
If you do not have permission to download copyrighted material, you are breaking the law.
What if I upload or download files to or from a server that is based outside of the U.S.?
If you are in the United States, U.S. copyright law applies to you regardless of where the server may be located.
If I bought the CD, is it okay to make copies of it?
It is illegal to copy a CD for use by someone other than the original purchaser.
How do I know if something is copyrighted?
When you buy music legally, there is usually a copyright mark somewhere on the product. Stolen music generally doesn’t bear a copyright mark or warning. Either way, the copyright law still applies. A copyrighted creative work does not have to be marked as such to be protected by law.
Where can I legally download media?
There are a number of sites that list legal sites for viewing music, movies and other copyrighted materials online. Some examples include:
How can I remove peer-to-peer file sharing software from my computer?
The University of Chicago maintains a site with instructions for disabling various peer-to-peer file sharing programs.
Related University Policies
072.1 Electronic Messaging
077.5 Copying of Computer Software
189.2 Copyright Guidelines