Security Awareness

Copyright Information FAQ

Copyright Information

 

Copyright Information

May I scan any image I wish and post it on my Web site?

The short answer is "no". While it is physically and technically easy to scan images out of books and magazines, and to place computer-readable (GIF and JPG) copies in one's web site, the fact that it is physically and technically easy does not make it legal or moral. The safest course of action is to obtain permission from the copyright owner before posting a scanned image into your web site.

Referenced : Responsible/Acceptable use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-03-22

Date Reviewed: 2007-11-05

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Do MIDI, WAV, and MP3 files violate the copyright laws?

MIDI, WAV and MP3 files are files which, when played back through appropriate software and hardware, reproduce sounds, music, or voices. The file, if prepared without permission, is likely to be an unauthorized derivative work, giving rise to liability under the copyright laws. The Copyright Act prevents the unauthorized copying of a work of authorship. A copyright is the set of exclusive legal rights authors have over their works for a limited period of time. These rights include copying the works (including parts of the works), making derivative works, distributing the works, and performing the works (this means showing a movie or playing an audio recording, as well as performing a dramatic work).

Currently, the author's rights begin when a work is created. Copyrighted works are not limited to those that bear a copyright notice. As a result of changes in copyright law, works published since March 1, 1989 need not bear a copyright notice to be protected under the federal statute. One must also bear in mind that activities on web sites, including activities involving WAV, MIDI or MP3 files, can give rise to liability under laws other than copyright laws. A WAV file that suggests an origin for goods or services (e.g. the theme song of a popular television show) might possibly give rise to trademark liability.

Reference : Responsible/Acceptable use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-03-22

Date Reviewed: 2007-11-05

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What will happen to you if you are found liable for copyright infringement?

In the US, if the copyright owner previously registered the copyright with the Copyright Office, then you may have to pay amounts of money set forth in the copyright statute, anywhere from $500 to $20,000. You may also have to pay the attorneys' fees of the copyright owner. In the US, regardless of whether or not the copyright owner previously registered the copyright, you may have to pay actual damages. In addition, the court may order impoundment and destruction of the instrumentalities that made the copying possible. This may include your computer, your hard disk, your backup media, your MIDI keyboard, your modem, and other hardware and software.

Policy Referenced : Responsible/Acceptable use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-03-22

Date Reviewed: 2007-11-05

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Who finds/detects illegal downloading or online piracy?

Copyright owners or their agents search for copyright infringement using tools developed specifically for this function.

 

Policy Referenced : Responsible/Acceptable use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-03-22

Date Reviewed: 2007-11-05

 

 

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What happens to someone found illegally downloading music or movies?

The copyright owner or their agent (in many cases this is the Recording Industry Association of America - RIAA) will send a Digital Millenium Copyright Act (i.e., DMCA) take-down notice to the online service provider (the University in the case of UMass students, faculty or staff) hosting the user.  The user is issued the notice and required to remove the offending material or respond with a statement, under penalty of perjury, that the downloaded material is not infringing on copyright. 

Violation of the U.S Copyright law is punishable by fines and/or imprisonment.  Under federal law, first-time offenders who commit copyright violations that involve digital recordings can face criminal penalties of as much as five years in prison and/or $250,000 in fines. You could also be sued by the copyright holder in civil court, which could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars more in damages and legal fees.

University penalties may included a written warning, temporary or permanent disconnection from the University network, education, community service, academic probation, loss of housing, suspension or expulsion. 

Policy Referenced : Responsible/Acceptable use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-03-22

Date Reviewed: 2007-11-05

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I am a copyright holder and think by copyright has been infringed, what do I do?

If a copyright holder believes that University users are infringing copyright protected work, they may send a notice to the designated agent Digital Millenium Copyright Notice agent. For a list of University of Massachusetts campus and UMassONLINE copyright agents go to http://www.copyright.gov/onlinesp/list/.

 Notification of claimed infringement must contain the information required by and otherwise comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Title 17, Section 512(c) of the United States Code.

Date Revised : 2006-08-23

Date Reviewed: 2007-11-05

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Is it illegal to upload music onto the Internet even if I don't charge for it?

Yes, if the music is protected by copyright and you don't have the copyright holder's permission. U.S. copyright law prohibits the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted creative work whether or not you charge money for it.

Reference:  Responsible/Acceptable Use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-08-23

Date Reviewed: 2007-11-05


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Is it legal to post music that is no longer copyrighted?

Copyrights don't last forever. Eventually all creative work becomes part of what is called the public domain at which point anyone and everyone is free to copy and distribute it as they please. But just because a particular recording has gone out of print doesn't mean its copyright has lapsed. If it hasn't, then you need to get permission from the copyright holder before you post it.  If you do not know if the music is in the public domain DO NOT post it.

Reference: Responsible/Acceptable Use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-08-23

Date Reviewed: 2007-11-05

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Am I breaking the law if I upload or download copyrighted music and leave it on my hard drive for less than 24 hours?

Reproducing or distributing copyrighted music without the permission of the copyright holder is against the law regardless of how long you hold on to the music.

Reference: Responsible/Acceptable Use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-08-23

Date Reviewed: 2007-11-05

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How do I know if something is copyrighted?

When you buy music legally, there is usually a copyright mark somewhere on the product. Stolen music generally doesn't bear a copyright mark or warning. Either way, the copyright law still applies. A copyrighted creative work does not have to be marked as such to be protected by law.

Reference: Responsible/Acceptable Use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-08-23

Date Reviewed: 2007-11-05



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How do I know what's legal and what's not when it comes to copying music?

If you distribute copyrighted music without authorization from the copyright owner, you are breaking the law. (Distribution can mean anything from "sharing" music files on the Internet to burning multiple copies of copyrighted music onto blank CD-Rs.)

Reference: Responsible/Acceptable Use of Computing and Data Resources (PDF)

Date Revised : 2006-08-23

Date Reviewed: 2007-11-05


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