The information contained on this website is about the lawful use of copyrighted materials, peer-to-peer networks, and fair use on NDSU's computing networks and in NDSU facilities. Additional information is given about the consequences of illegally uploading, downloading, and sharing music and movies.
This information is not intended to be a comprehensive treatment of the copyright laws; it is intended to provide basic information to help with understanding the differences between legal and illegal file sharing. Over the past few years, many students from NDSU and other universities have ignored the information provided to them about the consequences of illegal file sharing and, as a result, have been sued and have paid thousands of dollars in financial settlements for infringing on the copyrights of music, movies, and electronic game companies.
Copyright infringement is the act of distributing, without permission or legal authority, one or more items that have 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 an infringement.
Penalties for copyright infringement can include civil and criminal penalties. .
Understanding Copyright Infringement
NDSU has increased its efforts to make students aware of the policies that govern use of its computing facilities and systems and to encourage the responsible use of NDSU computing resources. These efforts include providing information about copyright laws, particularly with regard to illegal file sharing.
To protect students, faculty, and staff, and the University from legal actions, NDSU wants to provide a better understanding of the acts that constitute violations of federal copyright law. Those who use NDSU's network to access, download, upload, or otherwise share copyrighted materials without permission, without making a fair use statement, or without falling under another exception under copyright law, they are likely infringing copyright laws.
Copyright infringement occurs whenever someone makes a copy of any copyrighted work, such as songs, videos, software, cartoons, photographs, stories, or novels, without permission (i.e., a license) from the copyright owner and without falling within specific exceptions provided for under the copyright laws.
The NDSU network account holder is responsible for all activity that transpires through the account and all electronic communication devices registered on the network by the holder.
Infringing conduct exposes the infringer to the risk of serious legal penalties, both civil and criminal. Civil penalties may include fines. Moreover, courts can also award reasonable attorney's fees and costs and increase the amount of the damages in the case of willful infringement. Criminal penalties can include fines and imprisonment.
Once an IP address and other information have been obtained, copyright owners, and their representatives can file a "John Doe" lawsuit and issue a subpoena to the ISP demanding the identity of the user connected to that IP address.
Copyright Infringement Notifications
As an Internet service provider for its students, faculty, and staff, NDSU received notices from the copyright holders identifying the IP addresses of NDSU network account holders believed to be sharing copies of copyrighted materials without authorization. NDSU reserves the right to demand the infringing conduct cease immediately and remove the infringed copyrighted work(s); where necessary, NDSU will suspend the identified individual's network access and services. For students, faculty, and staff this is considered a violation of NDSU Policy 158, Acceptable Use for Electronic Communication Devices, and the NDSU Code of Student Behavior.
In certain circumstances, federal authorities can criminally prosecute copyright infringement. By participating in illegal file sharing, you may be subject to a lawsuit even after you have destroyed any illegal copy or copies of copyrighted material that were in your possession.
Copyright law provides no blanket exception from liability for university students based solely upon their status as students. There are limited circumstances where use of copyrighted materials without permission is allowable. One of these circumstances is under the legal doctrine of "fair use," such as for purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Whether use of copyrighted materials without permission is "fair use" depends on a detailed case-by-case analysis of various factors. For a better understanding of these factors, visit the U.S. Library of Congress, https://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html.
Types of Copyright Infringement Notifications
Copyright holders and organizations that represent copyright holders, such as the RIAA and MPAA, typically send out three different types of communications related to copyright infringement:
- Cease and desist, or copyright infringement notices (Take Down notices) - the purpose of these notices is to stop the illegal possession and distribution of copyrighted material. When the NDSU Chief IT Security Officer (CITSO) receives these notices from the ND University System Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) agent, the network account holder whose IP address has been identified in the notice is notified. The network account holder is given information on what steps must be taken to achieve compliance with NDSU policy and the copyright act. In addition the network access and services of the identified account holder are suspended until the issue is resolved.
- Pre-litigation notices - These letters are used by copyright holders and their representatives prior to filing a lawsuit to recover, by way of a settlement, financial damages caused by the illegal distribution of copyrighted material. If a network account holder has been identified as participating in the illegal downloading or uploading of copyrighted materials, that individual may receive one of these notices, even if they have already destroyed their copy (or copies) of the material in question.
- Subpoenas - These notices indicate the copyright holder has filed a lawsuit to recover damages for the illegal distribution of copyrighted material Those found liable will be subject to fines and penalties.
NDSU Statement on Acceptable Use of Network Resources
NDSU prohibits the use of its network resources to conduct inappropriate and/or illegal activity. The University complies with applicable federal and state laws and requires that network account holders do the same. In receiving an NDSU network account, customers agree to obey the University's acceptable use policies for electronic devices and the laws referenced by these policies. Network account holders are responsible for all activity that transpires through their electronic communication devices connected to the NDSU network.
NDSU enforces its policies and procedures pertaining to the electronic communication environment. NDSU reserves the right to block access to the NDSU network and its systems for any member of the NDSU community who repeatedly participates in behavior that is prohibited by the University's policies.