Digital Copyright and File Sharing

Copyright Law and the Illegal Use of Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

Policy Overview

Digital Copyright

All users of Odessa College should adhere to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The DMCA is a 1998 United States copy right law. The law criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures that control access to copyrighted works (commonly known as digital rights management or DRM). Odessa College provides resources and wireless networking as well as other information technology resources to ensure users accomplish their educational goals. By using the OC network, users agree to abide by the College’s Computer and Security Administrative Policy 2020. Users agree not to use College resources for unauthorized duplication, use, or distribution of copyrighted materials, including music and video files. Such activity is illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and exposes you to serious civil and criminal penalties. The DMCA is a federal law that criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, and services intended to circumvent copyright protections. In addition, the DMCA heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet.

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.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act

In 1998, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which amended U.S. copyright law to address important parts of the relationship between copyright and the internet. The three main updates were: (1) establishing protections for online service providers in certain situations if their users engage in copyright infringement, including by creating the notice-and-takedown system, which allows copyright owners to inform online service providers about infringing material so it can be taken down; (2) encouraging copyright owners to give greater access to their works in digital formats by providing them with legal protections against unauthorized access to their works (for example, hacking passwords or circumventing encryption); and (3) making it unlawful to provide false copyright management information (for example, names of authors and copyright owners, titles of works) or to remove or alter that type of information in certain circumstances.

Copyright Law {Title 17 U.S.C. Section 101 et seq., Title 18 U.S.C. Section 2319}

Copyright is legal protection of intellectual property, in whatever medium, that is provided for by the laws of the United States to the owners of copyright. Types of works that are covered by copyright law include, but are not limited to, literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, pictorial, graphic, film and multi-media works. Many people understand that printed works such as books and magazine articles are covered by copyright laws but they are not aware that the protection extends to software, digital works, and unpublished works and it covers all forms of a work, including its digital transmission and subsequent use. Federal law protects copyright owners from the unauthorized reproduction, adaptation, performance, display, or distribution of copyright protected works.

Copyright Violations

  1. Violations of the rights of any person or company protected by copyright, trade secret, patent or other intellectual property, or similar laws or regulations, including, but not limited to, the installation or distribution of "pirated" or other software products that are not appropriately licensed for use by Odessa College.

  2. Unauthorized copying of copyrighted material including, but not limited to, digitization and distribution of photographs from magazines, books or other copyrighted sources, copyrighted music, copyrighted video, and other related items.

  3. Exporting software, technical information, encryption software or technology, in violation of international or regional export control laws, is illegal

File Sharing

In 2008 Congress passed the Higher Education Opportunity Act. The Act’s provisions are intended to reduce unauthorized duplication of copyrighted works through peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing on campus networks. Users of Odessa College computers and network should be aware that P2P may be recorded and stored along with the source and destination. File-sharing is the process of exchanging files over the Internet. One of the most common forms of file-sharing is using Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Most P2P usage (which comprises a significant fraction of all file-sharing) is against the law because it involves the sharing of copyrighted materials without permission from the copyright owner (copyright infringement), usually music (MP3) or movie files, but also TV programs, books and images. Students and others who engage in unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including illegal P2P file sharing, may be subject to civil and criminal liabilities. P2P files are subject to the requirements of the Texas Public Information Act and the laws applicable to state records retention.

File Sharing Policy

This policy applies to Peer‐to‐Peer (P2P) used within Odessa College and P2P used conjointly with the Internet and does not supersede any state or federal laws, or any other


Users of Odessa College computers and network should keep in mind that all P2P may be recorded and stored along with the source and destination. Employees have no right to privacy with regard to P2P. Management has the ability and right to view users’ P2P on state systems. P2P files are subject to the requirements of the Texas Public Information Act and the laws applicable to state records retention.

Personal and College Use

Odessa College does not permit any personal use or college use of Peer‐to‐peer technologies or file sharing sites on the campus network.


P2P Usage on the College campus is not permitted.

Federal Penalties for Copyright Violations

Under federal law, a person found to have infringed upon a copyrighted work may be liable for actual damages and lost profits attributable to the infringement, and statutory damages from $200 up to $150,000, per infringement. The copyright owner also has the right to permanently enjoin an infringer from further infringing activities, and the infringing copies and equipment used in the infringement can be impounded and destroyed. If a copyright owner hired an attorney to enforce his or her rights, the infringer of a work may also be liable for the attorney's fees as well as court costs. Finally, criminal penalties may also be assessed against the infringer and could include jail time of up to 10 years depending upon the nature of the violation. In many cases, copyright law does not require the person committing the violation, or responsible for the violation, be aware that their actions are in violation of law. The absence of knowledge - or even intent - does not excuse the violation and is not a defense in a copyright infringement lawsuit.

College Discipline

Individuals who violate this policy may be denied access to college computing resources and may be subject to other penalties and disciplinary action, both within and outside of the college. Violations will normally be handled through the college disciplinary procedures applicable to the relevant user.

However, the college may temporarily suspend or block access to an account, prior to the initiation or completion of such procedures, when it reasonably appears necessary to do so in order to protect the integrity, security, or functionality of college or other computing resources or to protect the college from liability. The college may also refer suspected violations of applicable law to appropriate law enforcement agencies. The college may also specifically monitor the activity and accounts of individual users of college computing resources, including individual login sessions and communications, without notice, when there is reasonable cause to believe that the user has violated, or is violating, this policy or it is otherwise required or permitted by law. Any such individual monitoring must be authorized in advance by the President or the President’s designees.