Before you share, beware! The unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including through peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject a student to criminal and civil penalties. Although using peer-to-peer file sharing technology in itself is not illegal, what you share and how you share it may violate the law (just as while driving a car is legal, driving a car on the sidewalk at 90 miles per hour is not). The laws that govern copyright are not specific to any one technology. Students can violate the rights of a copyright holder using many different types of technology. Both uploading and downloading of files can pose a violation of the copyright law, and the law applies for songs, videos, games, textbooks, and any other type of creative content. Students should be cautious when obtaining any copyrighted material. As a rule of thumb, before a student receives anything for free, they should research whether that source provides material licensed by the copyright owner. Daemen College offers a list of licensed sources.
Individuals who violate copyright law by illegally uploading and downloading copyrighted files may be subject to civil penalties of between $750 and $150,000 per song. These penalties are established by federal law. In the past, pre-litigation settlements offered by copyright owners have ranged from $3,000 to $4,000 and up while juries have issued verdicts of hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars. In addition, a court may, in its discretion, grant the copyright owner reasonable attorney fees. Although criminal prosecution of students for file sharing is extremely rare, federal law lays out criminal penalties for intentional copyright infringement which can include fines and jail time.
While it is generally accepted in copyright law that you may format-shift content, that is, you may rip a CD onto your computer and then listen to it on your iPod, that only applies for your own personal use. You may not then distribute that song file to others. To do so, is to violate the copyright law as is to download a file shared in this manner. Therefore, it is prohibited by Daemen College policy for students to store or host copyrighted material, such as music or movies files, inside their publicly available space on the Daemen College File Server.
In addition to potentially violating the law, unauthorized distribution or receipt of copyrighted material is a violation of the College’s acceptable use policy. That policy states that use of College computing resources for any illegal activity, including violation of U.S. copyright law, is prohibited. Access to College computing resources is a privilege and not a right. It is expected that all users will respect the rights of other users, and the integrity of the systems and related physical resources. Users will be held accountable for their conduct under applicable College policies as well as federal or state law, including not only those policies, laws and regulations that are specific to computers and networks, but also those that may apply generally to personal conduct. Complaints alleging misuse of Daemen College resources will be directed to those responsible for taking appropriate disciplinary action. This may include the withdrawal of access to computing facilities, other traditional academic disciplinary actions or legal prosecution under applicable statutes.
For a hard copy of this document, please visit one of the Computer Support Supervisors located in the Research and Information Commons or in the Business Building Computer Lab. To ask questions about copyright violations, email firstname.lastname@example.org.