File Sharing and Copyright

image of two computers sending files to each other

Information Security is Everyone's Concern
You are the key to successful information security. An unprotected computer can be infected with a virus, worm, or Trojan in less than five minutes after being placed on a network. IT Security awareness means understanding the various threats that exist in one's environment and taking reasonable steps to guard against them.

Studies show that most breaches of computer security are the result of something a computer user did or failed to do. This training site will provide you with valuable information about best practices, policies, and procedures for ensuring secure information systems at Florida SouthWestern State College, so you can enjoy a safe computing environment.

Be sure to take the time to read all of the materials on this site carefully.

File Sharing and Copyright

Click here to read the File Sharing Procedure of Florida SouthWestern State College.

Copyright is a form of protection given to authors and creators of intellectual work including, music, drama, art, literature, and more. The author of the work is the only person who has the right to do or let anyone else do the following:

  1. Make copies of the work
  2. Distribute the work
  3. Display the work
  4. Perform the work
  5. Make derivative works

"Derivative works" refers to making modifications to the original work, adapting the original work, and translating the original work to another media. Public domain works refer to those works that are not copyright protected and freely available for anyone's use. This includes work for which the term of copyright expired; works where the author did not comply with statutory procedures to obtain the copyright, or it is the work of the U.S. Government.

Most of the recordings and videos found on the Internet today are protected by copyright. To obtain a work that is not in the public domain, you must get permission from the owner of the copyright. A safe way to assure you are obtaining legal copies of a published work is to pay the appropriate fee at a legal download site. Services such as Napster, Apple iTunes, and Musicmatch provide download permission based on a signed agreement with the owner of the work.

Although file sharing is a legal technology with legal uses, many users use it to download and upload copyrighted materials without permission. Accusations of illegal file-sharing typically come from either the music or movie industries, in the form of a The Digital Millennium Copyright Act Complaint (DMCA). The DMCA was passed by Congress in 1998 to bring copyright laws in line with digital technology. It defines penalties such as hefty fines for individuals found guilty of illegally circulating copyrighted works.

Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws

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.

Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.

Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

For more information, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQ's at

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Article ID: 99518
Fri 2/28/20 12:58 PM
Tue 5/9/23 5:42 PM