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Copyright and Filesharing

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College Policies and Procedures

Downloading and/or sharing copies of music, movies, or other intellectual property that you do not either a) have permission to download and/or share or b) own the copyright to is illegal and violates college policy.  Purchasing a song or a CD does NOT entitle the purchaser to redistribute copies.  For more information on copyright law, please see below.

Beloit College passes along to students any notices received of possible infringing activity. Students are responsible for following up with the notifying organization, if necessary.  Students who repeatedly receive violation notices risk a range of penalties, ranging from mandatory software removal to suspension of their campus network account to suspension or expulsion.

Students receiving three or more violation notices must meet with the Dean of Students and work with ISR staff in order to ensure that the offending material is removed from their computer and that music/online content management systems are set to not share files.

Information Services and Resources strongly encourages the Beloit community to respect the copyrights and intellectual property rights of those who create content and use these legal services. More information about filesharing may be found on the Music United web site.

Beloit discourages illegal downloading by shaping bandwidth using a Packeteer appliance. Over a seven day period, a student is allowed to use 28gb of bandwidth. Once this limit is reached, the student is still able to use Internet resources; however, the amount of available bandwidth is reduced to 96k until the seven day total falls below the 28gb limit.

The college will regularly review policies and procedures to assess effectiveness.

Copyright Law

Most music and videos available online today are protected by copyright law. Many internet users are not aware when they are breaking copyright laws. To ensure you are legal, make sure you have legally purchased the file you are downloading or have contacted the copyright holder for permission to share the file.

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 FAQs at

More Information on Copyright

"A copyright is infringed when a song (or other work) is made available to the public by uploading it to an Internet site for other people to download, sending it through an e-mail or chat service, or otherwise reproducing or distributing copies without authorization from the copyright owner."*
Making files available for copying using P2P applications such as bitTorrent, Limewire, or Bearshare, etc., that you do not own the copyright for is illegal. Remember that a copyrighted work may not be explicitly marked as copyrighted, but will still be protected under copyright law. It IS okay to download music or movies that have been legally purchased or are not copyrighted.

* (from, accessed 04/17/2009)

Effect on Campus Resources

Beloit College's network is a shared resource with a limited amount of bandwidth (Internet capacity). Every time you share a song or movie you are adversely affecting your bandwidth and the bandwidth of other users on campus.

Please refer to the Beloit College Ethical use of computing and information resources and privileges for more information about Beloit College's computing policies and procedures for infractions.

What is P2P?

P2P is defined as "peer to peer" networking. Servers are not required for the "peer" computers to upload and download software. Instant messaging and other popular network applications rely on P2P technology.

Some examples of P2P software are Ares, Limewire, bitTorrent, Gnutella, Bearshare, etc. P2P software itself is not illegal, however, the act of sharing copyrighted works over P2P networks that you do not have permission to share IS illegal.

What can you do to be legal?

  • Download or view content from legal sites
  • Don't illegally share copyrighted material: ensure programs you are using to manage your music are not set to share your music. Check out the University of Chicago site* for links to instructions for disabling sharing in many of the popular P2P programs.
  • Understand how programs you download, such as P2P software, work and what they do
  • Confirm that the distributor of a file you are interested in downloading has permission from the copyright holder to distribute it
  • Educate yourself about DMCA, NET Act, and Copyright laws

*This link is used with the permission of the University of Chicago. Beloit College is not affiliated with the University of Chicago. The University of Chicago is unable to provide technical support for the instructions contained in this link.

Additional Information