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Thursday, September 13, 2018

From the CIO and Vice President for Enrollment, Marketing, and Communications

Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2018

Protect Yourself from Legal Action over File Sharing

As required under the Higher Education Opportunity Act, this message shall serve as official notification to the campus community regarding illegal file sharing and copyright infringement.

Do you use your campus computer to share music, movies, or software over the web? Did you know that you may be violating federal copyright law?

Copyright infringement carries both 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. 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 U.S. Copyright Office website, especially its FAQs.

Although there are legitimate uses for file sharing and peer-to-peer technologies, please be aware that the campus Policy on the Use of Electronic Resources prohibits the use of the network for copyright infringement or software piracy. When you log in to a machine on the campus network or connect to the campus wireless, you are responsible for the use of your computer and your connection. Please see the RITE website for guidelines regarding the use of the campus secure wireless network.

If we receive a complaint identifying your computer as sharing copyrighted materials, we’ll meet with you to help you remove the offending materials and software. Repeat complaints will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Clear violations of the Electronic Resources policy that are not promptly remedied may result in termination of network access for the person(s) at fault and referral for disciplinary actions as appropriate.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) websites have information about their current activities and some background on why they are working to prevent the theft of creative content. Please see the RITE website for more information on peer-to-peer file sharing and copyright infringement.

There are legal alternatives. Several legal sources of online content can be found on the Educause website.

Please know that we are here to assist you. We hope you have a productive semester.