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Copyright Legality

Is that copy legal?

With your computer do you:

  • Download the latest song, or movie?
  • Copy media files to give to friends?
  • Use file sharing programs such as: Limewire, Ares, or Bittorrent?

Copyright law applies to music, movies, games, photos, software, and other files in digital format. Downloading or distributing copyrighted material without the explicit permission from the copyright holder is against the law.

You may be breaking copyright laws without knowing about it. Many applications, such as Limewire, Ares, and Bittorrent automatically share the files you downlaod with others, unless you specifically disable file sharing features. Your computer may be distributing copyrighted material illegally any time it is connected to the Internet.

Things you can do:

  • Obtain explicit permission from copyright owners to share a file.
  • Have proof that you have permission to download or distribute a file.
  • Verify that your sources for media files actually have permission to distribute the files.
  • Educate yourself regarding copyright law generally and on such topics as copy right infringement liabitlity, fair use, identifying copyright owners, and how to obtain permission. See:
  • Learn your rights. Read enclosed licenses of media or material you purchase.
  • Password protect the files you DO have permission to share.

Things the University of Minnesota does:

  • Investigate complaints from copyright owners.
  • Pursue appropriate disciplinary actions under the Student Conduct Code.
  • Comply with applicable laws.
  • Expeditiously remove access to the offending materials if notified by the copyright owner.
  • Educate the University community about copyright and intellecutal property rights issues.

Policy and Guidelines for World-Wide-Web Site: Copyright Protection

UMM WWW Advisory Group

Last revised June 1, 2000

Copyright protection of published works is a complex area of law and university policy. These guidelines concern only the appropriate form of a statement of copyright on web pages designed for the University of Minnesota, Morris’s web site, and are not intended to serve as a guide either to the law concerning copyright protection, nor to university policies concerning either publication of information on the world wide web or an individual’s intellectual property rights related to material created in an individual’s capacity as an employee of the University of Minnesota.

Pages created by employees of the University of Minnesota for individual units of the university (such as individual university departments, offices, disciplines, or divisions) are considered to be owned by the Regents of the University of Minnesota. As such, a copyright statement of the form

Original Publication Date by the Regents of the University of Minnesota" (for example, "© 2015 by the Regents of the University of Minnesota")

should appear in the footer material at the bottom of all unit web pages.

A copyright statement of the form

Original Publication Date Page Owner" (for example, "© 2001 Jane Q. Faculty")

should appear in the footer material at the bottom of any personal or professional page whose copyright protection the page owner wishes to emphasize. Examples might include creative content on a student home page or specialized instructional material posted for a course by a faculty member. If there is any question whether a page should be considered to be a unit page, or a personal/professional page hosted on the University of Minnesota Morris website, please contact the webmaster for guidance.

A web page is a publication, and as such the date of the copyright should be the date of first publication, and not the date the document was last modified. However, if a page undergoes substantive revisions, it may be considered to be a new publication (or a new “edition” of an extant publication), and as such a revised copyright date may be appropriate under some circumstances. One option in these situations would be to include a range of dates in the copyright statement, as in "© 1999-2015 by the Regents of the University of Minnesota".)

More information

U.S. Copyright Office

U.S. Copyright Office Summary of the DMCA

Nothing containted in this document may be constured or relied upon as legal advice. Consult an attorney directly regarding your specific legal needs.