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Copyright Infringement

 Things you should know if you receive a copyright infringement notice…

How does the University of West Georgia become aware of possible copyright infringement?  The University is registered with the US Copyright Office in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Third party companies monitor for copyright infringements on behalf of major motion picture studies, the Motion Picture Industry Association of America, the Interactive Digital Software Association as well as other copyright owners and their agents. These companies search for infringing files using popular peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing technologies. Files found that violate copyright law and traceable to a University IP address are reported to the University. The University is then required to act on these complaints.     

Is it illegal to use programs like LimeWire and BitTorrent?  The programs are not illegal, but they can force your computer to share copyrighted material, which is illegal.     

Is it illegal download music, software, and movies?  It is illegal to obtain copyright protected materials such as music, software, and movies in any form without paying for them unless the copyright owner explicitly allows it. For music files you must buy the album or track, or subscribe to a download service where you pay by the number of songs you download. For movies and TV shows you must buy a VHS, DVD, or digital copy. You must purchase computer software on physical media, such as CDROM or download it from service provided by the vendor unless the vendor has explicitly stated that the program can be obtained free of charge.     

If I own the DVD of a movie and I want to watch it on my computer why can't I download it from a file sharing service?  The person who is sharing the file is doing so illegally. If you obtain it through illegal means it cannot became legal because you own the DVD. If you want to store a copy of a DVD movie on your computer, you need to obtain software, which allows you to “rip” the files to a computer hard drive. Remember that sharing you legal copy of the file is illegal.     

If I "rip" a DVD that I own to my computer can I still get in trouble for having it?  If you allow other people to access it you are breaking the law.     

If I were just downloading files but not sharing anything how would anyone know?  When confronted with a copyright violation complaint students sometimes insists that they were not sharing files. Remember that many file sharing programs share files AUTOMATICALLY and others make it hard or impossible to turn off sharing.     

Why am I being singled out when everyone else I know uses these programs?  The University of West Georgia did not single you out. The infringing files were found by an enforcement agency that passed the complaint on to the University. We are upholding our responsibilities under the law with our current course of action. Currently The University of West Georgia does not monitor its network for content. We have measures in place to prevent people from using large amounts of network bandwidth but we do not monitor or review content.     

Is copyright infringement serious?  The companies who hold the copyright have the legal right to have subpoenas issued to obtain personal information about the people suspected of infringing upon their copyrights. If a company wished to do so the University of West Georgia would have no power to stop them from seeking legal action against a student who was found to be violating the law. Furthermore, a repeat offense (a second complaint traced to you) will initiate a formal disciplinary hearing with the Assistant Dean of Students. Such a hearing can have significant consequences on you academic career.