Copyright and Filesharing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The TMCC network is not to be used to illegally download music, movies, computer programs or any other copyrighted work. During the summer of 2009, new legislation went into effect that forces colleges and universities to implement controls against illegal file sharing or risk losing federal financial aid funding for students.
Even though TMCC takes steps to discourage illegal downloading, students are still liable for their online activities and need to make sure that they do no break the law while online. When it comes to illegal downloading, "If you are downloading something for free that you would normally pay for, stop to consider whether it is illegal."
See Also: TMCC Copyright Infringement Policy
What is the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) legislation?
The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 was signed into law by President Bush in August 2008 and went into effect during the summer of 2009. This new law contains three general requirements on controlling unauthorized file sharing at colleges and universities.
These requirements are:
- An annual disclosure to students describing copyright law and campus policies related to violating copyright law.
- A plan to "effectively combat" copyright abuse on the campus network using a "variety of technology-based deterrents."
- Agreement to "offer alternatives to illegal downloading."
Does anything happen if I download copyrighted material off-campus?
Off-campus Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are not subject to the HEOA, these companies are subject to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Off-campus ISPs can shut off internet service once they receive a copyright infringement notice. Students are liable for illegal copyright actions whether on-campus or off.
What is a copyright?
Copyright is a form of legal protection provided by United States law (Title 17 U.S. Code) that protects an owner's right to control the use of, whether by reproduction, distribution, performance, display or transmission of a copyrighted work.
Any activity that violates these protections, such as downloading and/or sharing copyrighted works without the owner's explicit permission, is in violation of United States law and is not an acceptable use of the TMCC network.
What are copyrighted works?
Copyrights protect "original works of authorship" and include:
- Books, articles and other writings
- Songs and other musical works
- Movies and television productions
- Pictures, graphics and drawings
- Computer software
What happens if you are caught breaking copyright law?
If it comes to the attention of the college that an individual is using TMCC computer equipment and/or network access to violate copyright law, TMCC will take action to stop such activities, including removing network access. In addition, violations of copyright law can lead to criminal charges and civil penalties. Under current copyright law, criminal cases of copyright violation carry a penalty of up to five (5) years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
What are the common copyright violations at TMCC?
The single most common source of copyright violation notices are peer-to-peer (P2P) programs. It is important to understand that the vast majority of files shared using these programs are done so in violation of copyright law. While P2P programs are not illegal, these programs can be used in illegal ways.
What are the risks of file sharing?
First, file sharing violates the TMCC user agreement. You run the risk of being blocked from using the TMCC network. If you are a repeat offender on the TMCC network, your dean will be notified.
If you are downloading copyrighted material without the owner's permission (music, movies), you are breaking the law. You could face steep fines and prison time.
Users connected to file sharing programs may unknowingly allow others to copy their files. Users unwittingly download viruses, spyware and malware. File sharing increases the risk that you may facilitate a security breach of the TMCC network. Since file sharing can allow hundreds of users to access your computing resources, your machine's operating speed suffers.
What are the legal alternatives to peer-to-peer (P2P) programs?
Both the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) have web sites that list legal alternatives to illegal P2P. Some of the more popular alternatives include:
Movies and Television
- Netflix Watch Instantly
- Major Television Network Web Sites