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Peer-to-Peer File Sharing and Copyrighted Materials

Campus users are reminded that Federal copyright laws (34 CFR 668.43(a)(10)(ii)) apply to many forms of intellectual property including copyrighted music and videos. Cabarrus College users are prohibited from distributing copyrighted materials through illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property. The College encourages the legitimate downloading of copyrighted material through recognized channels such as, iTunes, and other known repositories. Lists of legal download sources are provided by EDUCAUSE, the Recording Industry Association of America, and the Motion Picture Association of America.

Instances of violations are subject to College policies (08-06 Student Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Actions) where violators may face disciplinary action leading up to or including probation, suspension, or dismissal and Federal Laws as described below.

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 website of the U.S. Copyright Office, especially the FAQs.