The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) provides legal protection for authors of original works, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and other intellection products. The copyright law also grants a copyright owner the exclusive right to, and authorize others to, reproduce copies of the work.
File-sharing software is often used to copy and download or distribute music, movies, games and software through the Internet. Peer-to-peer (P2P) and file sharing programs, if installed and enabled on your computer, allow digital media to be downloaded or uploaded between your computer and any other computer that also has these programs installed and enabled, and is also connected to the Internet.
FILE-SHARING OF COPYRIGHTED WORKS WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM THE COPYRIGHT OWNER IS A VIOLATION OF FEDERAL COPYRIGHT LAWS.
Copying and/or distributing copyrighted material without permission of the copyright owner may subject you to serious civil and criminal penalties.
Criminal penalties for first-time offenders can be as high as five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
Civil penalties can run into many thousands of dollars in damages and legal fees. The minimum penalty is $750 per song.
The federal “No Electronic Theft Law” (NET Act) relates to digital recordings and provides similar consequences:
Criminal penalties can run up to 5 years in prison and/or $250,000 in fines, even if you didn’t do it for monetary or financial or commercial gain.
If you did expect something in return, even if it just involves swapping your files for someone else’s, as in MP3 trading, you can be sentenced to as much as 5 years in prison.
Regardless of whether you expected to profit, you could be liable in civil court for damages and lost profits of the copyright holder for up to $150,000 in statutory damages for each of their copyrighted works that you illegally copy or distribute.
Q . What is peer-to-peer file sharing?
A . File sharing is the process of making files available for other users to download and use.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing is when individuals store files on their personal computers and enable
their computers as servers so that others may download the files.
Q . Is peer-to-peer file sharing unlawful?
A . Peer-to-peer file sharing is not, itself, unlawful. However, it becomes unlawful when you share copyrighted content (e.g. music) and you are not the copyright holder. There are many legitimate and lawful uses of peer-to-peer networks. There are also unscrupulous and unlawful uses of those networks. It is the responsibility of all University constituents who use peer-to-peer technology to do so lawfully.
Q . What is appropriate file sharing and what isn’t?
A . Unless you are the copyright holder or have express permission to share someone else’s
copyrighted works, you are almost certainly violating someone’s copyrights if you upload copyrighted works to the Internet to share via a peer-to-peer network.
While there are some circumstances in which unauthorized downloading may be lawful, downloading songs, movies, TV programs, or software instead of purchasing them is clearly unlawful. Unless you are the copyright holder or have express permission to download someone else’s copyrighted works, you are highly likely to be violating someone’s copyrights if you download copyrighted works via a peer-to-peer network.
Sharing or distributing copyrighted materials (music and movies) is a violation of federal copyright protection laws. You may be doing this without realizing it if you use peer-to-peer software such as Aimster, Kazaa, Morpheus, Grokster, LimeWire, BearShare, BitTorrent, eDonkey, Freewire, Gnutella, and others.
Educause has developed and maintains an excellent list of legal sources for online content, you may find that list at this link:
Washburn University has a number of sources providing further information about copyright law available through our websites, as noted below.
Information about Washburn compliance with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) can be found here:
Information about Washburn disciplinary processes related to DMCA violations is here:
Common copyright questions and answers:
Definitions of copyright terms and concepts that may be otherwise difficult to understand can be found here:
Washburn University Libraries has prepared the following link with information for faculty, though the information is applicable to anyone:
More information for faculty can be found below:
If you have any questions regarding this advisory, you should contact the Information Security
Officer at 670-2341; the General Counsel at 670-1712; and/or the Housing Director at 670-1065.
Target: All Students