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Copyright is a legal right to control the copying, distribution, modification, display, and performance of certain types of works. It applies to text, graphics, video, audio, and many other forms of expression.
In general, you must have permission from the copyright holder to copy, distribute, modify, display or perform their work. There are few legal ways you can use copyrighted material in these ways without first obtaining permission from the copyright holder.
How does the university handle infringement complaints relating to the use of copyrighted material for official university business?
NC State University has the twin objectives of minimizing liability while also providing legal support for the activities of faculty and staff.
How does the university handle infringement complaints regarding my personal use of copyrighted materials?
The university follows official takedown and notification procedures as established by federal law.
NC State will terminate the computer accounts of repeat infringers. Other disciplinary actions may also be taken.
Although peer-to-peer file sharing programs are not illegal, they may be used for the illegal downloading and distribution of copyrighted materials such as music, movies and software. Uploading or downloading copyrighted material without permission can be infringement, whether it’s done by p2p software or other means.
Peer to peer file sharing and illegal downloading can be a problem for universities because the universities provide students and employees significant bandwidth distribution for research and scholarship. Sharing and/or downloading copyrighted music, videos, and film is both illegal and against NC State policy. It is critical that students and employees understand that illegal file sharing and downloading may have serious consequences and that they should refrain from such activity. The recording and motion picture industries have adopted an increasingly aggressive position in finding and prosecuting individual infringers, particularly in the university setting, for the sole purpose of making an example of impermissible uses and deterring other infringing activities.
The following website contains helpful links regarding NC State’s policies regarding copyright infringement and illegal file sharing and/or downloading: http://oit.ncsu.edu/n/rules-regulations-student-it-use.
Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws
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 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.
A highly recommended alternative is that users subscribe to a legal downloading service so they can legally and permissibly download digital media and keep themselves safe from prosecution and/or revocation of their Internet & Computing privileges. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) lists many of their approved music downloading services.
In October 1998, Congress and the President signed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Of importance to universities is the provision in the DMCA which limits liability of online service providers for copyright infringement where certain preventive measures are adopted. The intent is to encourage voluntary compliance with copyright law as it applies in digital media and to discourage illegal downloads and file sharing.
NC State has elected to comply with the conditions and procedures set out in the DMCA for notice and take down of infringing content. Owners of copyrighted works, or persons authorized to act on their behalf, who claim copyright infringement may notify NC State’s designated agent of the alleged infringement.
Below are some of the most significant provisions of the DMCA relevant to University Internet Service Providers (ISP’s):
- It is a criminal offense to circumvent anti-piracy measures built into software.
- ISP’s, including universities like NC State, that provide bandwidth, internet, and other electronic services to their faculty, students, and staff, are not susceptible to vicarious infringement exposure due to the activity of their users simply by providing the network transmitting the illegal files, provided that the ISP complies with the requirements of the DMCA. Note that this “safe harbor” applies only to those instances where NC State acts solely as an ISP, and not as a content provider. If the person posting the allegedly infringing material is a University employee and the material is work-related, NC State would be functioning as a content provider and the “safe harbor” would not apply.
- ISP’s are liable if they have knowledge of infringing downloads and fail to remove the infringing material from users’ sites.
A summary of the DMCA can be found at: http://www.copyright.gov/legislation/dmca.pdf.
NC State’s designated agent for receiving notices of copyright infringement is:
John L. Baines, Assistant Director, Security Standards and Compliance, OIT
University DMCA Copyright Agent
Campus Box 7109
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-7109
Telephone number: 919-513-7482
Email address: email@example.com
The notification must be a written communication that contains substantially the following:
- A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
- Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed, or, if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works at that site.
- Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing and information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material.
- Information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party.
- A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
- A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the exclusive right that is alleged to be infringed.
Students and staff should seek private legal counsel if they believe their copyright has been infringed upon. Infringements of copyrights owned by NC State should be reported to the Office of General Counsel.
Other important copyright information may be obtained from:
- NC State University Office of General Counsel
- NC State Copyright Administration
- NCSU Libraries Copyright and Digital Scholarship Center
- University of North Carolina Intellectual Property Procedures
- United States Copyright Office
- Campus Copyright Rights and Responsibilities: A Basic Guide to Policy Considerations
Industry-specific Internet anti-piracy information:
- University of Richmond Law School - IP Institute
- Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
- Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)
- Business Software Alliance (BSA)