Judicial AffairsJudicial AffairsDivision of Student AffairsDepartment of Student LifeUniversity of Cincinnati

Judicial Affairs

Copyright Infringement

Why it's illegal and why you should care!

What is copyright infringement?

Copyright infringement is known by many names, including downloading, file sharing, and burning.  Copyright law protects the value of creative work.  When you make illegal copies of someone‚Äôs creative work, you are stealing and breaking the law.  If you have ever purchased and burned a copy of a CD for a friend or downloaded a song, movie, or software program from the internet without the permission of the copyright holder, you have violated copyright law. 

Think about the FBI warning before a movie; the same warning applies to music and software.  You won't find this warning on music you've obtained illegally, i.e. a burned CD or internet file, but the full weight of the law applies just the same. 

Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution, rental or digital transmission of copyrighted sound recordings. (Title 17, United States Code, Sections 501 and 506). The FBI investigates allegations of criminal copyright infringement and violators will be prosecuted.

Illegal downloading and file sharing are just like stealing!!

Most of us would never consider shoplifting clothing, jewelry, electronics, etc. from a store, but when you use illegal peer-to-peer file sharing networks such as Ares, Limewire, Kazaa, Gnutella, Bearshare, or Morpheus, you are taking something that doesn't belong to you - for free.  This is a crime, just like theft!! 

Individuals who download and/or share protected media may be prosecuted in criminal court and/or sued in civil court for damages.  Criminal penalties can run up to 5 years in prison and/or $250,000 in fines!

And if the offender is a minor?  The behavior is still criminal, and parents may be held liable in place of their minor children, even if they were not aware that their child was stealing! 

It doesn't hurt anyone, right?  

WRONG!!!  Although you may feel justified in sharing a few songs with your friends because you think the music industry makes enough money already, think about this.  To produce music requires long hours and hard work, not only from "famous" artists but from everyone who works in the industry.  And not everyone in the music industry is wealthy; from record store clerks to sound engineers, they are working at a job just like us.  And when someone steals their work product instead of paying for it, they don't get paid.  Would you agree that file sharing doesn't hurt anyone if that was your job?

Illegal downloading makes an especially big impact on new and up-and-coming artists, who have not yet acquired a fan base.  If you share their work instead of buying it from a store, the artist will not make any money and will ultimately not make music.  If you are a fan of a band, you should show your support!!          

I won't get caught anyway, right?

WRONG again!!!  Many people consider illegal file sharing like speeding, they will do it until they get caught.  But considering the financial impact not only on the employees in the music industry, but the criminal and civil penalties as well, why risk it?  As of May 2005, the recording industry has filed over 11,000 lawsuits nationwide.  One Chicago woman was ordered to pay $22,500 for downloading 30 songs!!  And one parent who was sued civilly for his daughter's downloading must choose to settle with the record company or take the case to trial - which could cost him more than $450,000!!

What happens if I am caught file sharing at UC?

Copyright infringement is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct - Misuse of Information Technology.  Students who are found to be illegally sharing files will be subject to a procedural review to determine responsibility under the Code.  If responsible, this offense will become part of each student's permanent judicial file with the University. 

The RIAA and other copyright holders consistently monitor UC's network and alert the University when illegal activity occurs.  Last year, 93 students were found responsible for file sharing!!  Sanctions include temporary loss of internet privileges, Univeristy Probation, and/or educational research on copyright infringement.