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Things you should know:

Copyright Law

The unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject the students to civil and criminal liabilities;

Penalties

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, 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.

University Penalties

In addition to civil and criminal penalties, you may face additional University sanctions under Policy 91.003 - Computer and Network Use. Specifically:

Misuse of computing, networking, information, or World Wide Web resources may result in the loss of computing privileges. Additionally, misuse can be prosecuted under applicable statutes. Offenses that are in violation of local, state, or federal laws may be reported to the appropriate university and law enforcement authorities. Users may be held accountable for their conduct under any applicable university or campus policies, procedures, or collective bargaining agreements. Complaints alleging misuse of computer resources will be directed to those responsible for taking appropriate disciplinary action. Reproduction or distribution of copyrighted works, including, but not limited to, images, text, or software, without permission of the owner is an infringement of U.S. Copyright Law and is subject to civil damages and criminal penalties including fines and imprisonment. Violators will be subject to university rules and regulations.

University Plan

Ohio University uses a variety of deterrents to illegal file sharing. These include:

  1. Bandwidth Shaping - peer-to-peer is de-prioritized on the network, making it more difficult to share illegal files.
  2. Response to Notices - We take all copyright notices seriously, and upon successful validation, take appropriate action against the offender.

Alternatives

Educause has a list of alternatives to illegal downloads at http://www.educause.edu/legalcontent