UIC Policy on Sharing Copyright Works

Revision Date: September 12, 2003
Version: 1.00

An academic community such as UIC thrives on respect for other's ideas and other's rights. Our privileges are balanced by our responsibilities. This policy focuses on respect for all intellectual property, including copyrighted digital works of entertainment. The ban on unauthorized copying of copyright works in the University of Illinois Policy on Software Piracy also clearly applies to copyrighted works of entertainment, but we feel that it's important to address them specifically in the context of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)'s actions under the act.

It is not illegal to purchase file sharing programs such as BearShare, Morpheus, and KaZaA, but it is illegal to use them to download or distribute copyright protected material without the permission of the copyright holder.

Although you might not think of UIC in this way, UIC acts in many ways as your Internet Service Provider. For some time, we have cooperated with copyright holders when they find their copyright material being illegally distributed from machines on the UIC campus and give us suitable proof of the offense. Thus far, they have just requested that the material be removed and have left the handling of the individuals involved to the University.

Now, however, the RIAA has begun issuing subpoenas under the DMCA to ISPs to obtain the identity of individual users who are doing this and has begun suing those individuals under the DMCA. The DMCA is not a law without punishment; one can be sued for from $750 to $150,000 for each illegally copied song.

Acting as an Internet Service Provider (ISP), the University can be subpoenaed under the DMCA for the identity of users who are illegally distributing copyright material; it has already happened at a number of universities. The University must act in accordance with the Family Education Rights Privacy Act, but we might be forced to comply with such subpoenas. The RIAA has already successfully sued four university students for copyright infringement; it is not unreasonable to assume that they will do so again.

How can you protect yourself from this kind of legal and/or University policy action? Simple: don't download or distribute music, games or videos for which you do not own the copyright or have permission to do so. Also, learn about the functionality of file share programs. For example, some file share programs will automatically take music from a legally purchased CD stored on your hard drive and distribute it anytime your computer is on, without your notice or permission. Even if you know nothing about it, you are still responsible for the distribution of that material.

If you must use a peer-to-peer file sharing program, turn off the outbound function; instructions how to do so for many file sharing programs are at the University of Chicago's Network Security Center's Disabling Peer to Peer File Sharing (http://security.uchicago.edu/peer-to-peer/no_fileshare.shtml) Note: These pages were written the Network Security Center at the University of Chicago for the students at the University of Chicago; please don't contact them if you have problems following the instructions in them.)

Acknowledgment: Preparation of this document was greatly assisted by the Cornell University IT Policy Advisor DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT ANNUAL NOTICE FOR ACADEMIC YEAR 2003-2004 TO ALL CORNELL UNIVERSITY STUDENTS.