Federal copyright law protects the author of intellectual works. This copyright ensures that only the author or the author’s assignees have the legal authority to copy, distribute, create derivative works, or perform or exhibit protected works. These rights extend to the Internet and were supplemented by additional laws when Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA).
You could violate federal copyright law if:
There is a common misconception that you may duplicate and distribute copies of copyrighted materials as long as you do not sell the duplications. This is untrue. Copying and distributing someone else’s work may violate an author’s rights even when you are not selling the copies.
Violations to federal copyright law may carry heavy civil and criminal penalties. For example, civil penalties include damages and legal fees. The minimum fine is $750 per downloaded file. Criminal penalties, even for first-time offenders, can be stiff: up to $250,000 in fines and five years in prison.
A simple rule of thumb to help you identify which materials are protected by copyright and which are not: If you would typically pay for it, then it is probably protected. For more information, take our DMCA course in Blackboard. Contact email@example.com to enroll in the online course.
If you are using MU’s computer network, the University is your registered Internet Service Provider (ISP). The DMCA requires ISPs to take down or block access to copyrighted materials in a timely fashion when notified that their customers are sharing copyrighted files.
Complaints typically arrive directly from software, music, and motion picture associations, copyright holders, and law firms. The Division of IT disables network access for the listed device and attempts to identify the owner to inform him or her about the complaint. If the owner believes the complaint to be inaccurate, they are given the opportunity to contest the finding.
If your network connection has been disabled, call Tech Support at 573.882.5000. If you are informed that your connection has been disabled due to illegal file sharing or downloading, you must follow the steps below to have your network access restored:
Any future violations by the same person are forwarded to the Office of Student Conduct for possible punitive action. Additionally, network access for students with multiple violations may be suspended for one semester on the second violation and forfeited permanently on the third violation. Any attempts to circumvent the disabling of network access are treated as a flagrant violation of policy and are forwarded to Student Judicial Affairs for punitive action.
In an attempt to reduce the unauthorized distribution of copyright protected works on the MU campus, the Division of IT has implemented a Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Policy which prohibits the use of Peer-to-Peer applications on the MU network.
Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), copying and sharing copyrighted materials without permission is illegal. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and some other copyright owners and groups have stepped up their efforts to curb illegal file sharing on the Internet. Some of these organizations distribute “early settlement” letters to universities around the country as part of their anti-theft campaign. Given this activity, it is more important than ever to understand the importance of using legal methods when downloading files and the University’s position regarding these early settlement letters.
As a matter of policy, the Division of IT takes action when it is notified that someone is using the University’s network to distribute copyrighted materials without permission.
MU has decided to forward “early settlement” letters to students that the RIAA or other copyright holders allege have shared copyrighted material illegally while using the University network. MU will send a cover letter along with any early settlement letter to the student’s email address as well as his/her current and permanent addresses. Unless served with a proper subpoena, court order, or other legal process, the University will not release the name of the student. By forwarding the early settlement letters, MU has made no determination that a student has engaged in copyright infringement or that they should enter into an early settlement with the copyright holder. It is solely the student’s personal decision whether to respond to the early settlement procedure. MU believes that students should seek legal counsel before responding to these letters.
There are many options for legal downloading; a list of many of these services is available on the Educause website.
The Division of IT provides educational materials about the potential legal and policy enforcement consequences of illegal file sharing. To find out more about these programs, please contact the IT Security group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To comply with the law and to protect yourself from possible litigation, we strongly encourage you to remove illegally obtained copyrighted material from your computer and to stop downloading copyrighted material illegally if you do so now. We will continue our educational efforts in this area, but ultimately the choice is yours.