In honor of International Talk-Like-A-Pirate Day this week (September 19), I’ve decided to remind everyone of this year’s “rules” for stealing and looting other people’s digital booty.
BYU, an LDS university, is a historic hotbed for the digital-file-sharing debate when Napster appeared on the college scene circa the year 2000. As the definition of copyright infringement evolved over the past decade, BYU has obediently followed U.S. federal interpretations of the law. Just this morning, I received a campus-wide communication regarding the 2013 consequences of unauthorized copying and distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing. The information below is generalizable to not only other universities, but to corporate organizations too. I found the links to be especially worthwhile.
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 Law (www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#106) located at 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 permission constitutes infringement.
Penalties for those found liable for copyright infringement may be ordered to pay actual damages and “statutory” damages ranging from $750 to $30,000 per work infringed. For “willful” infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed in addition to costs and attorney’s fees. Willful infringement may also result in imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense should the court impose criminal penalties.
Activities such as uploading or downloading unauthorized copies of text, movies, games, computer software, and music (or any other material protected by copyright) may also incur serious personal consequences such as terminating your university computer privileges or affecting your status at the university. Students and other members of the BYU community should review the BYU Copyright Policy (policy.byu.edu/view/index.php?p=36) and Repeat Infringer’s Policy (lib.byu.edu/sites/copyright/policy-law/infringement-policies/), which further describe the consequences of engaging in copyright infringement.
If you are unsure if items you would like to download are legally authorized, review the Media and Copyright information (lib.byu.edu/sites/copyright/about-copyright/media-and-copyright/), Copyright Licensing Office website (lib.byu.edu/sites/copyright/), or contact the Copyright Licensing Office (lib.byu.edu/sites/copyright/contact/).