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What are the legal consequences of copyright violations?

Legal Consequences

Copyright violations are against US laws and international treaties, including but not limited to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 and other US copyright laws.

How you get caught

Most copyright holders are represented by agencies such as the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America. These agencies employ technological means to track and monitor peer-to-peer networks, usually by connecting to the networks as another "peer" in the network. When they monitor a computer transferring potentially infringing material, the date, time, content, and address of the infringing computer is recorded. The Internet Service Provider (ISP ) that manages the network to which the allegedly infringing computer belongs is served with a copyright notice, typically under the DMCA. Provided the information provided is sufficient, the ISP (e.g. SU or Apogee ) then takes immediate action to take down the offending material.

What could happen?

Essentially, you could be sued. The copyright holders may be entitled to $750 - $30,000 per work under US copyright law. Many copyright holders, such as the RIAA, often chose to offer a settlement to the alleged infringer, but this is their choice and should not necessarily be expected.

It HAS happened at Southwestern

SU administrators received letters from the RIAA for three students using P2P networking for music.  Each student was fined $3000.  Parents...not happy!

The content of this article has been reprinted (and edited) with permission from The University of Tennessee - Office of Information Technology - June 2008

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