Copyright Information for Students

Message to the UNC Asheville Student Community

Dear Student Community,

As you are likely aware, in spite of its ease and the fact that “everyone does it,” downloading music, television programs, films, games, and software without paying for them and without permission of the owner is against the law. What you may not realize is that even if you purchase those materials legally, when you make them available to others by placing them in “shared” folders accessible to peer-to-peer software (P2P) (see Wikipedia’s “Peer-to-peer,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peer-to-peer) you are also violating United States copyright law and are subject to civil and, in extreme cases, criminal penalties. You should also be mindful that if you can use software (e.g., Lime Wire, Morpheus) to locate music or other files on the internet, the copyright owners will have at least as powerful software to locate the infringing files on your computer.

The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and University of North Carolina Asheville policies speak most directly to this issue and lay out the procedures we follow when notified that a copyright owner believes they’ve located a case of infringement on a computer attached to the campus network. When we receive a complaint alleging copyright infringement, the DMCA requires that we disconnect the computer identified by its IP address from the Internet. The next time the computer’s owner attempts to log on to the campus network, they will see a web page requiring the user name and password. Next they’ll see a screen with instructions to contact me. That computer’s access to the campus network cannot be restored until we complete the rest of the procedure outlined in the Allegations of Copyright Infringement Under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

At the very least such notification will disrupt your access to the internet and create significant amounts of work for University personnel. Even a single event can result in you and your family facing a lawsuit. Repeat offenses will most likely result in your losing the privilege of internet access from your residence hall room and, again in extreme cases, lead to more severe sanctions.

Since 1998 UNC Asheville has been careful to follow the procedures as outlined in the DMCA both to protect the financial resources of the University and to serve as much as possible as a buffer between students and complainants. Fortunately, to date we have not had a student receive a subpoena or go to court. However, the music industry has significantly increased its efforts. In 2011 UNC Asheville received and processed more than 189 copyright complaints compared to 107 in 2010. Our concern is that in spite of our best efforts someone will receive a subpoena and end up spending a lot of time and possibly money in dealing with the consequences. In 2009 a federal jury ordered a Boston University graduate student to pay four music companies $675,000 for downloading and distributing more than two dozen songs. The Chronicle of Higher Education noted that “The jury could have demanded that Mr. Tenenbaum, a 25-year-old physics student, pay as much as $4.5-million . . . .” and that “In a separate lawsuit in June, a woman was ordered to pay $1.92-million in damages for downloading 24 songs.”

Please, for your own sake, do not download or make copyrighted materials available on your computer! Please see links below for more information and contact me or the ITS Help Desk (helpdesk@unca.edu) if you have questions or need help.

Richard White

University's Designated Agent and DMCA Compliance Officer