Campus Technology Services

Taking Steps for the Future

Do you use peer-to-peer (P2P) programs like Kazaa, Bit Torrent, Gnutella, or Limewire to listen to and share music files? Did you know that you could be violating the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) by doing so? This could impose civil and criminal penalties including fines, jail time, and lawyer’s fees. Note that the minimal per instance fine associated with copyright infringement for civil penalties is $750.00 and criminal penalties can go as high as $250,000 per instance and five years in prison.

The DMCA was passed in 1998 to help protect copyrighted material from being copied and shared digitally. This includes copyrighted music and songs. If you are downloading music that is copyrighted and haven’t paid for it, you are violating the DMCA. If you are ripping copyrighted CDs onto your computer and then sharing them, you are violating the DMCA. In addition, if you are sharing copyrighted movies and/or television programs, you are violating the DMCA. How do you know if something is copyrighted? Most material will say so either somewhere on it or on the case that it might have come in, but a good sign that something is copyrighted is if someone had to BUY it.

Sometimes, SUNY Oswego receives warning notices from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and other companies of material that is being shared illegally from our campus. SUNY Oswego immediately takes action upon receiving these notices. There is a formal procedure that is followed when the campus receives these notices. Detailed information about the steps that we take upon receiving a notice is on our DMCA notification procedures page. Since February 2007, the RIAA is more aggrassively targeting university students who are violating the DMCA. Instead of sending warning notices, they are sending pre-lawsuit letters to students on university campuses who have been found uploading and/or downloading copyrighted material. The pre-lawsuit allows them to settle at a reduced amount of money than if the case goes to court. Note that the minimal per instance fine associated with copyright infringement is $750.00 but can go as high as $250,000 and five years in prison.

What can you do to make sure you aren't illegally sharing music files or other copyrighted files on a peer-to-peer network?

  1. Make sure you own any copyrighted music, movies, etc. on your computer. You are allowed to rip a music CD that you have purchased to your computer - you just can't share it through the popular peer-to-peer file sharing programs. Remove any files that you do not own or purchase them through the Apple iTunes store or other online music/video store including MSN Music, Napster, Walmart, Yahoo Music, and more.
  2. Make sure your peer-to-peer file sharing program is not automatically sharing files. The University of Chicago has a great page on how to check the popular file sharing programs to see if you are sharing music files.
  3. Watch the video on downloading music published by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
  4. Tell your friends!

Below are some additional resources: