What is copyright?
Copyright is legal protection of intellectual property, in whatever medium, that is provided for by the laws of the United States to the owners of copyright. Types of works that are covered by copyright law include, but are not limited, to literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, pictorial, graphic, film and multi-media works. Copyright protection extends into software, digital works, and unpublished works and it covers all forms of a work, including its digital transmission and use.
What is the current law concerning digital copyright?
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), signed into law in 1998, recognizes that digital transmission of works adds complexity to the Copyright Law. The DMCA provides non-profit educational institutions with some protections if individual members of the community violate the law. However, for Carl Albert State College to maintain this protection we must immediately block access to infringing material, whenever it is brought to our attention and whether or not the individual who is infringing has received notice, or is aware of their infringement. Universities and individuals can be subject to the imposition of substantial damages for copyright infringement incidents relating to the use of College network services. In a civil action, the individual infringes may be liable for either actual damages or statutory damages of up to $30,000 and can be increased to up to $150,000 if the court finds the infringement was willful. Individual infringes may be subject to criminal prosecution. Criminal penalties include up to ten years imprisonment depending on the nature of the violation.
What kinds of activities violate the federal law?
Following are some examples of copyright infringement that may be found in a College setting:
- Downloading and sharing MP3 files of music, videos, and games without permission of the copyright owner
- P2P File Sharing: Peer to Peer file sharing is the process of sharing and transferring digital files from one computer to another. In a P2P network, each ‘peer’ is an end-user’s computer connected to the other ‘peer’ via the Internet – without going through an intermediary server. To participate, you must download and install a P2P software program.
- Using corporate logos without permission
- Placing an electronic copy of a standardized test on the department’s web site without permission of the copyright owner
- Enhancing a departmental web site with music that is downloaded and artwork that is scanned from a book, all without attribution or permission of the copyright owners
- Scanning a photograph that has been published and using it without permission or attribution as the background of a web site
- Placing a number of full-text articles on a course web page that is not password protected, allowing the web page to be accessible to anyone who can access the Internet
- Downloading licensed software from non-authorized sites without the permission of the copyright or license holder
- Making a movie file or a large segment of a movie available on a web site without permission of the copyright owner
How do you get caught violating copyright law?
Copyright holders represented by organizations such as the Recording Industry Association of America, the Business Software Association, and the Motion Picture Association of America are applying serious efforts to stop the infringing downloads of copyrighted music, movies, and software. The companies or their agents locate possible copyright infringements by using automated systems, or “bots” that search the networks looking to see if any of the common music, movie or software sharing programs are active on a port (e.g. KaZaA, Gnutella). The bot then asks the sharing program if it has a music title by a particular artist. If the sharing program answers positively, the bot reports the particular IP address and title to an authority, who then sends out the violation notices to the owners of the IP address.
The CASC network has a range of IP addresses and all computers connected to the CASC network have an IP address. When CASC receives a violation notice, CASC locates the IP address and whenever possible, the user of that address. At that point, CASC is required to act on the notification.
If the IP address leads to my computer, what happens next?
These notices come to the Director of Information Technology and assigned CASC staff from organizations that represent the artists and copyright holders. When CASC receives such a notice, the network administrator will look up the network IP address and stop network services to the computer that is connected to the network service and where the infringing material resides. At this point, the computer cannot use any CASC resources or Internet resources. Once the identity of the individual is known, they are notified that they must remove the infringing material from their computer and inform student affairs of its removal before network access will be reinstated.
First-time Notifications: If this is the first notification that the College has received on an individual, Student Affairs for students, Human Resources for staff and faculty, and IT will verify that the infringing material has been removed from the computer. Once this is done and the student has attended a mandatory intellectual property workshop, the network connection will be reinstated and the computer can return to the network. A report about the violation of copyright will be sent by Student Affairs or Human Resources to the appropriate administrative staff. We will also notify our internet service provider OneNet about the steps taken to remedy the situation.
Second Notification Process for Students: If students are notified of copyright infringement a second time, their privileges to access the network from their personal computers, either through a wired port or through wireless, will be denied for four weeks after action is taken by Student Affairs to determine whether the violations occurred. Student Affairs will be notified when second infringements have occurred and may take appropriate action within the College’s disciplinary process. If the student tries to connect his/her computer to the Internet from a College port that is assigned to someone else, through an open port in a classroom or through the wireless service, further disciplinary action may take place. During this four week period, students will be allowed to access the Internet only from College computers.
Subsequent Notification Process for Students: If students are notified of copyright infringement a third time, their privileges to access the network from their personal computers will be denied for a semester after action is taken by Student Affairs to determine whether the violations occurred. These subsequent infringements also will be reported to Student Affairs and may result in action taken within the College’s disciplinary process. If the student tries to connect to the Internet from a College port that is assigned to someone else, through an open port in a classroom, or through the wireless service, further disciplinary action may take place. During the period when they cannot connect a personal computer to the network, students will be allowed to access the Internet only from College computers.
Second Notification Process for Faculty and Staff: Faculty and staff who are engaged in teaching functions are expected to understand and act in accordance with applicable copyright laws. The College is obligated to exercise greater responsibility to address instances of repeated infringing activity by these individuals. There are potentially serious implications for both the individual and the College if the College receives more than two notices of infringement against an individual within a three-year period. For this reason, in an instance of a second notification of an individual’s infringing activities a meeting with the relevant administrators will be held to determine the action(s) to be taken.
Action Taken in Response to Subpoenas: Upon receipt of a valid subpoena, Carl Albert State College is obligated to turn over any electronic information regarding specific instances of infringing material that has been allegedly transmitted over its networks, in accordance with the standard procedures of legal Counsel.
For a more comprehensive reading see
Jerry Ellis, Director of Information Technologies