Skip to main content

Copyright Information

How Can I Tell If I Need Permission?

Most music, software, movies, television shows and other media are covered by copyright and should not be shared via P2P programs. 

Unless you have purchased the media file, carefully check the permissions.  Unless it is offered as a free download on reputable site (such as iTunes), is clearly labeled as a free download by the copyright holder (such as those on a band's official site), or you know the work is in the public domain, you should not try to upload or download the files. 

While some file sharing for academic purposes may be fair use, downloading copyrighted files without permission to expand your personal media library is never fair use.

Legal Sources for Downloading

EDUCAUSE's Legal Downloading page lists resources and legal alternatives for downloading.

File Sharing Can Lead to Legal Problems

P2P File Sharing – What You Should Know

Their are many uses of peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing programs on colleges campuses and they are usually not blocked on campuses.  However they have become a popular way to exchange music, movies, games and software by students who may want to share digital media via to the Internet.  If you use P2P programs, we want you to be aware that your use of this software can put you at risk for both criminal and civil liability if you copy and distribute materials without permission of the copyright owner.

P2P File Sharing can Infringe Copyright

P2P file-sharing programs are not illegal. You can share any file for which you own the copyright or have the permission of the copyright holder to share.  However, P2P programs should not be used to distribute files without permission of the copyright holder and this is a violation of U.S. copyright law.

Under the copyright law (Title 17, United States Code, sections 504, 505), you could be fined between $750 and $150,000 for each work you infringe. In addition, an infringer of a work may also be liable for the attorney's fees incurred by the copyright owner to enforce his or her rights. 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, see the U.S. Copyright Office website, especially their FAQs.

Albright College Policy Regarding P2P file Sharing

All users of Internet servers at Albright College are reminded that the Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources Policy forbids users to "make or use illegal copies of copyrighted materials or software, store such copies on college systems, or transmit them over college networks."  Therefore if you use a P2P program to upload or download copyrighted material without permission, you may be in breach of the Policy.

Violation of the Acceptable Use Policy may result in suspension or termination of your right of access to computer resources, disciplinary action by the Office of Community Standards, referral to law enforcement authorities for criminal prosecution, or other legal action, including action to recover civil damages and penalties. Violations will normally be handled through the university disciplinary procedures applicable to the relevant user. For example, alleged violations by students will normally be investigated, and any penalties or other discipline will normally be imposed, by the Office of Student Affairs.

In addition, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that amended the Copyright Act of 1976 requires the that internet service providers (ISPs) such as Albright College cannot offer safe harbors from liability for copyright infringement by users of the service.  Check the ITS website for more information on how infringement of copyright is handled and how the department educates the community on being better users of copyright information and uses bandwidth shaping to control and monitor large bandwidth users.