Copyright Infringement Policies and Sanctions (Including Computer Use and File Sharing)
Schools must annually make available to current and prospective students the school's policies and sanctions related to copyright infringement, including:
- A statement that explicitly informs students that unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject them to civil and criminal liabilities
- A summary of the penalties for violation of federal copyright laws
- The school's policies with respect to unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, including disciplinary actions taken against students who engage in illegal downloading or unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials using the school's information technology system
- Annual report on Preferred Lender Arrangements
PEER-TO-PEER FILE SHARING
What is Peer-to-Peer File Sharing?
Peer-to-peer (P2P) is a method of content distribution in which digital files are shared between “peer” computers using the Internet. Because “peer” computers do not rely on a central server to deliver content and they often break large files into numerous smaller pieces for sharing, P2P networks can be fast and reliable, balancing traffic loads that might otherwise overwhelm servers, and minimizing the impact of service breakdown due to single server or communication interruption. The roles of producer, consumer, and distributor of digital content are less clear---while greater quantities of information and resources can be delivered to a larger audience and applications than would be possible using conventional distribution methods. When used under the guidelines of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), P2P technology has the potential to play a pivotal role with regard to content distribution and knowledge sharing in higher education.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Link)
Is P2P File Sharing Illegal?
File sharing is legal if the shared content is not copyrighted or is shared with the authorization of the copyright holder. Unauthorized distribution of copyrighted content (books, journals, music, video, artwork, media, etc.) is copyright infringement. A simple analogy to use as a guideline---if the content can be purchased, sharing the work in an unauthorized fashion without payment or permission is not legal and violates the DMCA.
Dartmouth College (Link)
How Can I Find Legal Sources or Web Sites for Downloading Music and Video?
A list of popular legal sites can be found at:
Legal Download Sites (Link)
I’d Like to Learn More About These Issues and How I Can Protect the Content I Create…
Here are several useful sites that address copyright issues, P2P, content ownership, and :
- Campus Downloading
- RIAA Frequently Asked Questions for Students
- Copyright Alliance
- Creative Commons (Link)
- Open Media Commons (Link)
WHAT IS A TAKEDOWN OR DMCA NOTICE?
Takedown or DMCA Notices are the most common type of copyright infringement notices that the University receives. Content owners such as the RIAA and MPAA send these notices to the ISP from which the file was made available.
How does the University handle takedown DMCA notices against undergraduate students?
When Philadelphia University receives a takedown DMCA notice regarding a particular user, the Office of Information Resources (OIR) disables the port or device associated with the notice. OIR informs the Dean of Students of the notice and the Dean schedules an appointment with the student associated with that device and the VP for Information Resources to discuss the possible DMCA violation. Staff from the Technology Help Desk will assist the student with removing any P2P applications that shared copyrighted material.
If I comply with all of the University’s requests, am I protected from further action against me?
As a matter of Philadelphia University policy, you must comply with the procedures. It is important to understand that even if you comply fully with the University’s takedown procedure, you are not shielded from potential liability from third parties like the RIAA, who retain the right to sue you for the underlying infringing activity.
WHAT IS A PRESERVATION NOTICE?
The RIAA sometimes sends preservation notices to Cornell requesting that Cornell preserve contact information of the persons associated with IP addresses alleged to have infringed their copyrighted works. Cornell will generally comply with such notices; however, Cornell will not release the contact information based on the preservation letter alone. Preservation notices are sometimes followed by early settlement letters (see below).
WHAT IS AN EARLY SETTLEMENT LETTER?
The RIAA sends campus ISPs such as Cornell “Early Settlement Letters” to be forwarded to the persons associated with IP addresses alleged to have infringed their copyrighted works. The early settlement letter advises the user that he or she may soon be subject to a lawsuit in connection with the allegedly infringing activity, provides a sample of the sound recordings that the user allegedly infringed, and suggests that user consider settling the claim to avoid the RIAA filing their claims in court (the “Early Settlement Letter” includes a link to a settlement website where a credit card payment can be made ).
Since December 2008, the RIAA has stated publicly that it has suspended its early settlement process, but there is no guarantee that it will not sue students again.
If at some point, Early Settlement Letters are reintroduced and you receive one, you may wish to seek the advice of an attorney. The University’s Office of the General Counsel does not represent students, so you would need to seek independent legal representation.
Past letter recipients who did not want to settle with the RIAA were frequently sued. As part of this process, the RIAA would issue a subpoena to Cornell requesting the disclosure of your name and identifying information.
HOW DOES PHILADELPHIA UNIVERSITY RESPOND TO SUBPOENAS FROM THE RIAA?
If served with a valid subpoena from the RIAA, the University will comply with the subpoena, providing the requested information.
I DIDN’T PERSONALLY UPLOAD ANY COPYRIGHTED MATERIALS. AM I STILL RESPONSIBLE?
You are responsible for any violation that occurs using your registered network addresses. This includes any downloading that occurs using a VPN connection to the University network.
I BOUGHT THOSE SONGS LEGALLY USING ITUNES (OR SIMILAR SOFTWARE). WHY AM I RECEIVING A COMPLAINT?
Even if you have legally purchased a copyrighted work, it is still a violation of copyright law to distribute it to others without the content owner’s permission. If you are making the works available for downloading (whether knowingly or not), you may receive an infringement notice or be subject to other legal action based on the copyright holder claims that you are allowing other people to download their material.
HOW CAN I BE SURE THAT I AM NOT SHARING COPYRIGHTED WORKS ON MY COMPUTER WITH OTHERS?
By default, P2P file-sharing applications enable uploading of files from your computer to others. To stop uploading, you either have to remove the P2P application from your computer, locate and change the options that control uploading in the application, or disconnect the computer from the network. Even after you have disabled uploading on a P2P application, a software update or other resetting mechanism may reset your preferences to resume uploading. You can reduce this risk by monitoring your use of the software, learning about the underlying technology, and familiarizing yourself with the laws that govern your use of these applications. If you want to be certain that you are not distributing copyright files over the Internet and campus network contact the Technology Help Desk for assistance in removing the P2P software application.
Portions of this page are based on web documentation produced by Yale University and Cornell University and are used with permission.