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Policy Reminder on Copyright Violations

Effective Dates and Issuing Authority

Effective Date: July 1, 2010

Date Last Reviewed: December 12, 2019

Issuing Authority: Information Technology Services


To:           Temple University Network/Internet Users
From:      Temple University Information Technology Services
Subject:  Policy Reminder on Copyright Violations

This annual notice reminds the Temple University community of the personal risks and legal consequences of unauthorized downloading and distribution of copyrighted materials, including illegal peer-to-peer file sharing. Everyone is expected to respect the intellectual property rights of others and refrain from copyright infringement.

“Copyright” is legal protection for creative intellectual works, which is broadly interpreted to cover any tangible expression of an idea. Music, movies, text, graphics, art, photographs, and software are examples of types of works protected by copyright. The creator of the work, or sometimes the person who hired the creator, is usually the copyright owner.

“Use” of a work means copying, distributing, making derivative works, publicly displaying, or publicly performing the work, and includes downloading and uploading content on the Internet. Unless you have permission, it is illegal to use peer-to-peer applications to share copyrighted media online. You may obtain permission in several ways:
• Written permission from the copyright owner 
• Software license 
• Purchase of rights 
• A legal exception, such as the “fair use doctrine,” see the site.

The most common legal exception in an educational setting is “fair use.” “Fair use” is a legal term, and you should not assume that your intended use is “fair use” without examining several variables. Charles Library has a website devoted to copyright that provides helpful guidance in navigating copyright and plagiarism issues.

Although it may be lawful to use peer-to-peer file sharing software, the illegal distribution of copyrighted files with that software is not. In many situations, either downloading or uploading even part of a copyrighted work without permission is copyright infringement. Peer-to-peer file sharing also increases the likelihood that others could access confidential data on your computer or install destructive computer viruses that could spread across the University’s network.

Copying, distributing, downloading, and uploading content to or from the Internet or other electronic resources without legal exception or permission may also infringe the copyright for that content. Even an innocent, unintentional infringement violates the law. Violations of copyright law using the University information resources may create personal liability for you, as well as liability for the University. Faculty and staff who commit copyright infringement using University information resources or who otherwise violate the Technology and Software Usage Policy may be subject to disciplinary action. Violations of law may also be referred for criminal or civil prosecution.

If you illegally download, upload, copy, or distribute copyrighted content, even unintentionally, you are at risk for serious penalties. Copyright holders such as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association (MPA) use automated detection systems to identify copyright infringements. You are advised to use legal sources of online content. EDUCAUSE provides a list of legal alternatives for downloading.

Please be mindful of the law and University policy, and consult with the Information Technology Privacy Office if you have any questions about how copyright law affects your use of University information resources. Please refer to these policies and resources for further information:

Temple University Technology and Software Usage policy
EDUCAUSE Legal Sources of Online Content
Why Music Matters Digital Downloading Resource
RIAA Student and Educator FAQs
U.S. Copyright Office