Responsibilities Regarding Music, Movie & Copyrighted File Sharing
Plymouth State University policies prohibit the distribution of materials
owned by anyone other than the person engaged in such distribution
(whether officially copyrighted or not) without the permission of the
owner. The distribution of copyright protected files without the
permission of the copyright holder is illegal.
Recent developments lead us to address this issue and remind all users of
the PSU network of our own policies and applicable law. We also want to
emphasize your own personal exposure if you are found to be in violation
of copyright laws.
Purpose of the Guideline
PSU Acceptable Computing Use Policy establishes a general policy for
the use of computing, telephone and information resources on the PSU
These guidelines were established to ensure that the PSU community has a
clear understanding of proper procedure and usage. This policy is reviewed
routinely to ensure that it remains current in light of advancing
anyone accessing the Internet through PSU’s network, using either an
institutionally-owned or personally-owned computer, the University serves
as their Internet Service Provider (ISP). The University is therefore
bound by laws and policies that apply to ISPs. The University requires
that all users of the PSU network learn and abide by relevant University
policies which apply to such use as outlined in the
Plymouth State University Computing Policy.
an ISP, the University is required to and has responded to complaints from
copyright holders and organizations representing copyright holders, such
as the Recording Industry Association of American (RIAA) and the Motion
Picture Association of America (MPAA), regarding computers on campus
illegally distributing copyrighted materials. When receiving a “cease and
desist order” from these and other organizations with credible evidence of
the abuse and sufficient identification of the computers involved,
ITS investigates the situation, informs the member of the
community responsible for the computer(s) at issue of the complaint, and
may disable network access for the hardware involved until such time as
the issue is resolved. In some cases, there may be a minimum time of lost
access. Most complaints received by the University are associated with
peer-to-peer music and video distribution.
Recent developments suggest that if requested by representatives of
copyright holders, Plymouth State will be legally required to provide
information about individual users who appear to be illegally distributing
copyrighted materials on our internal network and/or to the Internet.
These organizations (particularly the RIAA and more recently the Movie
Industry) have begun aggressive
identification and the filing of suits against individual users for such
distribution of copyrighted materials.
such cases, it is the individual engaged in such distribution that will be
legally liable and subject to possible fines (which according to the
Digital Millennium Copyright Act can range from $750 to $150,000 per song
if songs are the items being distributed illegally).
RIAA recently won a legal case requiring Verizon, an ISP, to turn over the
names of subscribers who, according to the RIAA, were engaging in illegal
file sharing using their network. Furthermore, the RIAA recently sued four
college students who were allegedly engaged in extensive sharing of
copyrighted music on their colleges’ networks. These suits were settled,
with the students involved agreeing to pay between $12,000 and $17,000 in
Because of our University’s standing policy (Plymouth
State University Computing Policy) and because of the announced
intention by the music and movie industries to pursue personal suits as well as cease and desist
orders to ISPs, we urge all members of the PSU community to avoid the
distribution of any copyrighted material.
Q&A About Music &
Movie File Sharing
If I own a CD and want to rip songs to my computer for use there or on my
MP3 player, am I in violation of copyright?
When you buy the CD you
acquire rights to use the contents. But just for you.
You get into trouble when you use a file sharing program (KaZaA,
Morpheus, Grokster, etc) to share that same music with others, allowing
them to download without paying royalties to the artists.
If I use a file sharing program to search for and download songs,
movies or other copyrighted material, am I in violation of the law?
Generally this is not
acceptable. While the courts still wrangle about legal issues, the
recording industry has clearly established legal efforts to cease this
The recording industry
publishes a web site which includes pointers to sources of legal music on
The Motion Picture Association of America also has an educational web site
information about copyright, the web site of the U.S. Copyright office can
Where can I get music to download legitimately?
There are many good
sites for acquiring music online for modest costs.
iTunes from Apple [requires an iPod],
Rhapsody are just a few. Even
Wal-Mart has gotten into the action! These online services allow you
the ability to search and download music legally. Before you get involved
in any of them, it helps to determine first how you want to use the music.
Some allow music streaming (play it online). Some allow burning downloaded
songs to CDs and MP3 players on a limited basis. Some have other
restrictions. Either way, you can still obtain the music YOU want at a
cost of a dollar (give or take a few cents).
What happens if I get caught sharing copyrighted files?
If the Recording (or
Industry Association of America (RIAA) found significant transmissions of
copyrighted songs are coming from a particular internet address (in this
case, your computer on the PSU network), the law permits a claim of up to
$150,000 per infringement. In the past twelve months, settlements have
been reached ranging from $2000 to $25,000.
Violation of federal
copyright law also constitutes a violation of the PSU Acceptable Computing
Use policy. You may well lose computing and network privileges on our
do others know that I’m sharing files?
In most cases, ITS
does not know. However, as part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA),
PSU receives ‘cease and desist’ notifications from the RIAA targeting
specific internet addresses (remember, when you use the Internet you leave
ITS also monitors
network traffic patterns. There are times when heavy traffic is identified
on a particular internet port. You, too, will notice when the music file
sharing is occurring. In most cases, it brings the rest of the internet
traffic to a crawl. To help protect network resources for legitimate uses,
we put limits on the amount of traffic that can flow in and out of
individual ports. That is more than enough capacity for legitimate uses.
For file sharing activities, it slows it down significantly.