Answers: Copyright Infringement Reminder

Friday, September 28th, 2007 8:38 am

A few students had questions about the recent Copyright Infringement Reminder email from ITS.

>> I know sharing copyrighted music is illegal, but what about movies?

Distributing (sharing) copyrighted content without the owner’s permission is illegal regardless of the media. This means that downloading and sharing copyrighted movies and tv shows can also put you at risk for a lawsuit from the copyright holders.

Similar to the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) has filed suits against copyright infringers based on the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act)

>> I’ve heard conflicting things about movie-downloading sites. Is Veoh safe?

Veoh.com is complicated — it is a website based on posts by users. Copyright law requires VeOH to remove copyright-infringing videos after they are notified by the copyright holder, but the company does not have to screen material posted to the site. Veoh was recently sued by Universal, similar to the recent Viacom suit against YouTube. This means that copyright-infringing material may be on the site, and it is important that you do not re-distribute this copyrighted material (even inadvertently). You can read VeOH’s copyright policy here: http://www.veoh.com/corporate/copyright.html

In a nut-shell: Do not download copyright-infringing material to your personal computer and never share, distribute, or post copyright-infringing material online (videos, music, etc).

>> What about Ruckus?

Ruckus.com is a website that allows students to download DRM (Digital Rights Management) tracks to a personal computer. These tracks are not your property and can only be played using the Ruckus Player. The player currently only supports Windows XP and Windows 2000. Mac and Windows Vista users are out of luck. DRM tracks can only be played on DRM mp3 players (iPods are not in this category) if you purchase a Ruckus to Go Subscription.

>> And if I use too much bandwidth?

ITS looks at the “top talker” (highest bandwidth user list) and will restrict users that have exceeded their quota. If this happens to you, you will be receive a letter from Kate Etzel, Director of User Support at ITS. Students get three warnings before their network access is disabled and the matter is brought before the honor board. Using an excessive amount of bandwidth is considered a violation of the Smith Acceptable Use Policy:

Use of computer resources in such a manner that might cause congestion of the network or that incapacitates, compromises, or damages college resources.

… Violations of college policies are adjudicated according to procedures outlined in the Student Handbook, the Faculty Code, and the Staff Handbook, and may result in the removal of computer access privileges and/or more serious sanctions. Some offenses are punishable under state and federal laws. A repeat copyright violation will result in the immediate removal of computer access privileges. The college reserves the right to access the contents of electronic files during the course of an investigation and to disclose the contents during judicial proceedings.

More Questions? Email technotes@smith.edu or post a comment.

5 Responses to “Answers: Copyright Infringement Reminder”

  1. ewhite Says:

    More questions from a student:
    1) Are downloading files from Yousendit, Megaupload, etc not allowed?
    2) Is downloading sheet music from this site (http://imslp.org/) not allowed in the Smith network?

    Answers:
    1) Yousendit.com and Megaupload.com are similar to Veoh.com in the sense that all the material posted on these sites are uploaded by users. The sites themselves are not prohibited or inherently copyright-infringing, but there could potentially be copyright-infringing material available on these sites, so use caution downloading/uploading on any site.

    2) imslp.org (The International Music Score Library Project) calls itself a “virtual library of public domain music scores.” Public domain means that the work cannot be claimed as property of any individual or group. In general, this means that anyone can use the material (for commercial or non-commercial purposes). So, assuming the ISMLP is what it purports to be, download away!

  2. ewhite Says:

    Q: If we had previously had a program on our computer because someone else was using it this summer but deleted it right after the initial email was sent, are we okay? Will we be in trouble?

    A: I am not sure if I have interpreted your question correctly, but if you are worried about previously having a program like LimeWire installed on your computer — the program itself is not against school policy, using it to download copyrighted materials is against school policy. So, if you have LimeWire installed on your computer, you are not breaking any rules. However, using LimeWire to download copyrighted material is against the Smith Acceptable Use Policy (“downloading, or making available for download to others, audio and video MP3 files without the permission of the copyright owner” is against the policy).

    If you still have LimeWire (or a similar program) installed on your computer, we recommend that you uninstall it completely or disable sharing. For instructions, see the TARA page on Disabling P2P file sharing.

  3. ewhite Says:

    Q: Hello! I have a question concerning the RIAA and illegal downloading. If I’ve already deleted the program that was illegally uploading music, am i safe from being tracked??

    A: If you have uninstalled your P2P sharing software, your computer will no longer share the (copyrighted) music on your computer. You are not at risk for copyright infringement as long as the RIAA has not already caught you for copyright infringement. Disabling or uninstalling the software does not protect you from a previous infraction.

  4. mandarina Says:

    Q: Is it safe to use Mirc?

    A: mIRC (a shareware Internet Relay Chat client for Windows) does not violate the Smith Acceptable Use policy just as an IRC client. But, as with any website or application, the way that you use the application is what you need to be conscious of.

  5. mandarina Says:

    Q: Is it ok to download scanlations?

    A: Scanlations are an example of illegal distribution of copyrighted material — unless the original comic is distributed under a copyright license that allows derivative works (for the translation) and distribution (for examples of this type of copyright, see Flickr’s Creative Commons page, for more information, see creativecommons.org).

    So, what does this mean? You will not be sued by the RIAA or MPAA for downloading scanlations because they are not protected by these organizations. However, downloading scanlations that are distributed illegally (without the permission of the copyright holder) is against Smith’s Acceptable Use Policy.

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