Copyright and Piracy Infringements

Almost all forms of original expression that are fixed in a tangible medium are subject to copyright protection, even if no formal copyright notice is attached. Written text (including e-mail messages, news posts, and web pages), recorded sound, digital images, and computer software are some examples of works that can be copyrighted. Unless otherwise specified by contract, the employer generally holds the copyright for work done by an employee in the course of employment.

Copyright holders have many rights, including the right to reproduce, adapt, distribute, display, and perform their work. Reproducing, displaying or distributing copyrighted material without permission infringes on the copyright holder's rights. However, "fair use" applies in some cases. If a small amount of the work is used in a non-commercial situation and does not economically impact the copyright holder it may be considered fair use. For example, quoting some passages from a book in a report for a class assignment would be considered fair use. Linking to another web page from your web page is not usually considered infringement. However, copying some of the contents of another web page into yours or use of video clips without permission would likely be infringement. For more information please visit this Copyright website.

Software piracy
Unauthorized duplication, distribution or use of someone else's intellectual property, including computer software (including video games), constitutes copyright infringement and is illegal and subject to both civil and criminal penalties. The ease of this behavior online causes many computer users to forget the seriousness of the offense. As a result of the substantial amounts of money the software industry loses each year from software piracy, the software companies enforce their rights through courts and by lobbying for and getting stiffer criminal penalties. It is a felony to reproduce or distribute ten illegal copies of copyrighted software with a total value of $2,500 within a 180-day period. Penalties for a first time felony conviction of software piracy include a jail term of up to ten years and fines up to $250,000. For more more information please visit the Business Software Alliance (BSA) website.

Sound and video recording piracy
Another form of copyright infringement is the unauthorized duplication and distribution of sound or video recordings. Online piracy is increasing as many people use the Internet to illegally distribute digital audio and video files (e.g. MP3 or MOV format). The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) monitors the Internet daily and scans for sites that contain music and movie files. They have been successful in getting the sound recordings and illegal movies removed from those sites. You can report violations to the RIAA or MPAA directly.

Federal copyright law grants the copyright owner in a sound or video recording (typically, a record company) the exclusive right to reproduce, adapt, distribute and, in some cases, digitally transmit their sound or video recordings. Therefore, the following activities, if unauthorized by the copyright owner, may violate their rights under federal law:

  • Making a copy of all or a portion of a sound recording onto a computer hard drive, server or other hardware used in connection with a web site or other online forum. This includes converting a sound recording into a file format (such as a .wav or mp3 file) and saving it to a hard drive or server;
  • Transmitting a copy or otherwise permitting users to download sound recordings from a site or other forum; and/or
  • Digitally transmitting to users, at their request, a particular sound recording chosen by or on behalf of the recipient.

Ifyou reproduce or offer full-length sound recordings for download without the authorization of the copyright owner, you are in violation of federal copyright law and could face civil as well as criminal penalties. Placing statements on your web site, such as "for demo purposes only" or that the sound files must be "deleted with 24 hours," does not prevent or extinguish this liability. See Copyright infringement for more information on what is considered "fair use".

The University of Toledo Peer-to-Peer Copyright Infringement Program
The University of Toledo Peer-to-Peer Copyright Infringement Program identifies the steps the University will take to make students aware of the copyright infringement issue as it specifically relates to peer-to-peer file sharing and the procedures used for responding to reported incidents of copyright infringement.

Legal Alternatives
There are legal alternatives to peer-to-peer file sharing.  A list of alternative resources for music and media can be found by clicking here.

Federal computer security violations
The primary federal statute regarding computer fraud 18 U.S.C section 1030 was amended in October, 1996 to protect computer and data integrity, confidentiality and availability. Examples of violations are:

  • theft of information from computers belonging to financial institutions or federal agencies, or computers used in interstate commerce;
  • unauthorized access to government computers;
  • damage to systems or data (intentionally or recklessly);
  • trafficking in stolen passwords;
  • extortionate threats to damage computers;
  • computer viruses and worms.
Last Updated: 6/27/22