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Copyright Infringement

Avoid the dark waters of internet piracy

SDSU is raising anti-piracy awareness. And you can, too. Use legal alternatives for downloading music, movies, and more, and you will help SDSU crack down on illegal file sharing. Downloading music or movies from some file sharing programs can be illegal, plus it compromises your computer's security.

Keep in mind, too, that sharing files with others is just as illegal as downloading them yourself!

IT can, and does, monitor for signs of violations. Not only that, but the copyright holders represented by organizations such as the RIAA, the Business Software Association, and the Motion Picture Association of America locate possible copyright infringements by using automated systems and notify SDSU of potential abuses. A ResNet Technician will then contact the offender and take corrective steps.

What is piracy?

The term piracy is used to refer to the violation or infringement of copyright.

What is copyright?

Copyright is legal protection of intellectual property, in whatever medium, that is provided for by the laws of the United States to the owners of copyright. Types of works that are covered by copyright law include, but are not limited, to literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, pictorial, graphic, film, and multi-media works. This protection extends to software, digital works, and unpublished works and it covers all forms of a work, including its digital transmission and subsequent use. Please find more Copyright related information at the Library.

What is the current law concerning digital copyright?

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), signed into law in 1998, recognizes that digital transmission of works adds complexity to the Copyright Law. The DMCA provides non-profit educational institutions with some protections if individual members of the community violate the law.

For SDSU to maintain this protection under the DMCA, we must expeditiously take down or otherwise block access to infringing material whenever it is brought to our attention, whether or not the individual who is infringing has received notice.

In addition, attempts to circumvent any access control technology that the university may have in place to prevent copyright infringement in considered a violation of the DMCA.

What kinds of activities violate federal law?

The following are examples of copyright infringement:

  • Downloading and sharing MP3 files of music, videos, and games without permission of the copyright owner
  • Using corporate logos without permission
  • Scanning a photograph that has been published and using it without permission and/or attribution
  • Downloading licensed software from non-authorized sites without the permission of the copyright or license holder
  • Making a movie file or a large segment of a movie available on a web site without permission of the copyright owner
  • Using images found on the internet without proper attribution and/or permission. Some images that are licensed under a Creative Commons License can be used by simply attributing the source. Others that do not specify a license may only be used after permission is granted from the creator.

Specifically, is sharing and downloading MP3 files (or other types of music files) and videos illegal?

Some copyright holders give official permission to download MP3 files, and you might be able to find a limited number of videos that are not copyright protected. It is also true that some MP3 files are copyright free and some MP3 files can be legally obtained through subscription services. However, most MP3 and video files that are shared do not fall into any of these categories.

US Copyright Law allows you to create MP3s only for the songs to which you already have rights; that usually means you purchased the CD or downloaded a file via a download service. US Copyright Law allows you to make a copy of a purchased file only for your personal use. Personal use does not mean that you can give a copy to other people, or sell a copy of it.

Some parts of this document have been taken and modified from: