Copyright Infringement and Filesharing

See Also: Policy 4811 - Copyright Infringement

Truckee Meadows Community College respects the copyright protections given by federal law to owners of digital materials and software, and abides by all license and contractual agreements in the use of resources and services. Members of the College community are advised to become as knowledgeable as possible regarding copyright law.

The TMCC network is not to be used to illegally download music, movies, computer programs or any other copyrighted work. Legislation is in 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 not 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."


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.

Copyrights protect "original works of authorship", including:

  • Books, articles and other writings
  • Songs and other musical works
  • Movies and television productions
  • Pictures, graphics and drawings
  • Computer software

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.

Downloading Copyrighted Material Off-Campus

Off-campus Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are not subject to the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA). Instead, 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 Filesharing

If you are downloading copyrighted material without the owner's permission (music, movies), you are breaking the law. Filesharing increases the risk that you may facilitate a security breach of the TMCC network, and violates the TMCC user agreement. If you are filesharing, you may be blocked from using the TMCC network.

Peer-to-Peer Programs

The single most common source of copyright violation notices are peer-to-peer (P2P) programs. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing technology allows people to share files online through an informal network. 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 in and of themselves, they can be used in illegal ways. Both the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) list legal alternatives to illegal P2P. Visit WhyMusicMatter.com for legal alternatives to P2P.

Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) Legislation

The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) contains three general requirements on controlling unauthorized filesharing at colleges and universities. These requirements are:

  1. An annual disclosure to students describing copyright law and campus policies related to violating copyright law.
  2. A plan to "effectively combat" copyright abuse on the campus network using a "variety of technology-based deterrents."
  3. Agreement to "offer alternatives to illegal downloading."

How to Avoid Violating Copyright Laws

Step 1: Determine if copyright law applies to the information, file or data you plan to use.

See the following links as resources:

Step 2: Seek appropriate permission and licensing.

  • Identify the owner.
  • Identify the rights needed.
  • Contact the owner and determine whether payment is required.
  • Get your permission agreement preferably in writing or follow owner’s instructions in acquiring information, file or data.

Step 3: If you have acquired copyright materials without permission, please remove these materials immediately.

TMCC's Information Technology Office monitors and reviews technology use with regard to compliance of copyright laws. If copyright infringement is discovered, TMCC will direct the student (or faculty/staff) to remove copyrighted material. 

Step 4: Report violations.

Suspected violations of these procedures or related statutes should be reported to IT Customer Service.