The U.S. Department of Justice and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) moved aggressively against colleges and universities, among others, to identify and punish those violating copyright laws. The RIAA served several hundred subpoenas during the summer of 2003 on colleges and universities, seeking the identities of computer users suspected of downloading and sharing music, movies, gaming software, or other copyrighted material from the Internet in violation of copyright laws. Institutions receiving subpoenas are being required to reveal the names of individuals who have engaged in these activities.
If you download and/or share music, movies, gaming software, or other copyrighted material from the Internet, you risk:
- being charged criminally;
- being sued in civil court and held responsible financially, for up to $150,000 for each violation; and
- being held accountable under Monmouth University policies and procedures, including but not limited to having your Internet account and/or network access suspended or terminated
Aside from being detrimental to the artists and the industries, the illegal downloading and sharing of files hurts colleges and universities by:
- utilizing resources, such as bandwidth, that should be allocated for institutional purposes, and
- exposing institutional resources and data to risks from hackers and viruses
Enforcement at Monmouth
Generally, you should assume that any music, movie, gaming software, or similar file that you obtain via the Internet is copyrighted. You will subject yourself to the risks mentioned above if you download and/or share those files, unless you have the permission of the copyright owner or are otherwise legally permitted to engage in such activity.
Frequently Asked Questions
In the coming months, the University will release additional information on this topic. In the meantime, the following questions and answers are meant to provide guidance for you as you consider this matter.
- What about MP3s?
Generally, if you download or share material without the permission of the copyright owner or without other legal exception, you are violating copyright law. Some Web sites have the permission of the copyright owner to make the material available to others. If you are not sure whether the Web site you are visiting has such permission, assume that it does not. If you own copyrighted material, such as a CD or tape, making a copy for your personal use is permitted.
- What else should I know?
Among other things, if you, without the permission of the copyright owner or without other legal exception, make copyrighted material available to others (e.g., via your Web page or by allowing others access to your computer files), you are violating copyright law.
- Is someone monitoring my activities?
Monmouth University does not routinely monitor an individual’s use of University resources or the Internet. However, the University may be notified by system-generated reports or by outside entities, like the Department of Justice or the RIAA, that suspicious activity is occurring on the network. Under those circumstances, the University may investigate an individual’s activities and may be required to report suspected illegal activity.
- But, Everyone Does It!
While you may have the technical capability to download and share the types of files discussed above, and while it may seem like everyone is doing it, if you engage in these activities, it is likely that what you are doing is illegal.
Monmouth University reserves the right to investigate suspected inappropriate use of University resources, and may copy and examine files and information as it deems appropriate. Violators are subject to disciplinary action as prescribed in the student and employee handbooks. Additionally, they may have their account privileges revoked, and they may be pursued through the courts, both criminally and civilly.