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ITS Safe Computing

Digital Copyright Compliance

The Basics

U-M encourages all students, faculty, and staff to engage in safe and legally compliant sharing of copyrighted materials. Downloading or sharing copyrighted material (such as music and videos) is illegal if done without the permission of the copyright owner whether you profit from it or not. It harms the artist who created the work.

About the Law

If you are infringing copyright, even unwittingly, you can be subject to civil damages of between $750 and $150,000 per infringement and even criminal fines of up to $250,000 and jail time. In addition to violating federal law, you might also be violating university policies. You are responsible for any digital copyright violations associated with your computer and network access if you give others permission to use them.

Copyright Compliance at U-M

In addition to civil and criminal penalties, illegal downloading or file sharing is a violation of U-M policies, primarily the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities. Repeated violations may result in sanctions imposed by the Office of Student Conflict Resolution.

The university's copyright compliance program is supported by:

Learn more about copyright compliance and how to report issues and concerns from the U-M Compliance Resource Center's Information Management: Copyright.

Hazards of Using P2P File-Sharing Software

  • Your files are shared automatically. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing software (such as BitTorrent) not only receives files, but automatically allows others to access them.
  • Auto start-up. P2P programs may start up automatically when you turn on your computer, letting others access your files without your knowledge or consent. You are responsible for the file sharing activities of your computer, even when you are unaware of the activity.
  • Security risks. P2P technology may make your computer vulnerable to malicious software or viruses.

Test Yourself and Take Action

I Received a DMCA Notice: Now What?

Publishers who suspect a violation of copyright send a notification of claimed infringement to the university's Digital Media Copyright Act (DMCA) agent. The notification generally specifies the Internet address of the device suspected to be in violation. The university identifies the uniqname registered to that address and sends the DMCS notice on to you.

Additional Resources

Last modified: September 23, 2015.