A A A print this page

Illegal File Sharing Information for Students and Employees

Information Technology Services

Millsaps College respects the principle of protection for intellectual labor and creativity as a vital element in the academic enterprise. The works of authors and publishers, performers and film makers, whether in printed or recorded form, are recognized as protected intellectual property under the Copyright Law of the United States (PL 94-553). Fair use of copyrighted material by students and faculty is also protected by copyright law as interpreted in Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copying in Not-for-Profit Educational Institutions (H. Rept. 94-1476).

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998, and provisions of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008, are designed to protect copyright owners and requires colleges to help prevent illegal sharing of copyrighted property. The DMCA makes it illegal to copy or share intellectual property - music, videos, games, software and other materials - without permissions. The HEOA requires colleges to inform students about illegal file sharing, to advise them of potential penalties for violating the law, and to implement technological deterrents.

Unauthorized downloading or uploading of copyrighted material can result in legal action against you, including lawsuits by the copyright holder or their agent (such as the RIAA and MPAA). It is also a violation of Millsaps' Ethical Use of Computing Facilities policy. There are legal ways to download copyrighted materials but peer-to-peer sharing of copyrighted material without the copyright holder's permission is illegal, whether you are serving it up or downloading it. In most cases, the software you use to download files automatically makes your machine into a server, so you may be serving files without even realizing it. Copyright holders can file lawsuits against you and the maximum penalty can be very large. They can also notify Millsaps College of infringements that are taking place on campus, and require us to intervene to stop them.

Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the 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 include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.

Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

For more information, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at http://www.copyright.gov, especially their FAQ's at http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq.

Policy and Procedures for Handling Violations

Illegal file sharing discovered by the College

Network traffic will be monitored for peer-to-peer file sharing activity. Students found to be using P2P software or engaged in other illegal activity will be notified

First offense: Student is warned of possible violations and is required to read the policy on ethical use of computers and copyright again.

Second offense: Student is denied access to the internet for five days and is reported to the Academic Dean. Judicial Council or Academic Honor Council charges may be filed and appropriate sanctions imposed.

DMCA notices received from copyright holders (e.g., RIAA or MPAA)

Copyright holders and their agents (e.g., Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America) monitor file sharing sources and send notices to the College when violations are found.

First notice:

  • Check network usage logs and registration information to examine the system alleged to be involved in copyright infringement and identify the person using it;
  • Inform the user that an infringement claim as been made and ask if the user has downloaded or shared the copyrighted material in question without permission.
  • User is required to remove file sharing software and all illegal files from their computer.
  • User is required to re-read the Computer User Agreement and to review information about the DMCA statute and copyright regulations

Second notice:

  • Deny the user's system access to the outside Internet for a period of five days; email, on-campus internet, and network drives will remain accessible.
  • require the user to re-read the Computer User Agreement and to review information about the DMCA statute and copyright regulations;
  • require the user to submit a statement: (a) confirming the second case of copyright infringement, (b) acknowledging violation of the Computer User Agreement and his/her promise not to repeat this behavior,
  • inform the Academic Dean of the actions taken; Judicial Council or Academic Honor Council charges may be filed and appropriate sanctions imposed.