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Music and File Sharing Facts

What is Copyright Law?

Copyright law protects the value of creative work. When someone makes illegal copies of someone else’s creative work, they are stealing and breaking the law.


If you make unauthorized copies of copyrighted music recordings, you are stealing and you are breaking the law. You could be held legally liable for thousands of dollars in damages.


What the Law Says and What it Means

Federal Law (Title 17, United States Code, Sections 501 and 506) provides severe civil and criminal penalties for authorized reproduction, distribution, rental or digital transmission of copyrighted sound recordings. Essentially, the law says that you cannot have any files on your computer that you have not legally acquired. More importantly, you cannot share a file with others without authorization from the file’s copyright owner.

While it may appear that digital information is freely available on the Internet, the truth is that it’s not free unless the copyright owner says so.


Bottom Line: When people make or share copies of digital recordings, they may be taking valuable property from the owner without permission.


See for more about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).


Why should I care?

Someone Who Cares is Watching

Most complaints is come from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and their member companies. They monitor file sharing networks like Ares, BitTorrent and Lime Wire to identify the network addresses of files. They are filing lawsuits against the users of those computers.

You could be violating the law, if:

  • You copy downloaded music from your hard drive to CD’s or DVD’s that you then give to your friends.
  • You load copies of songs on your public web page for sharing with anyone.
  • You join a file sharing with anyone.
  • You join a file-sharing network and freely download unauthorized copies of all the copyrighted music you want, even though you don’t share them yourself.
  • You transfer copyrighted music to your friends using email or an instant messaging service.



File sharing (also known as peer-to-peer technology or P2P) allows you to search for and copy files directly from the computers of others. The most common use of this technology is to swap digital music files (MP3s), movies and TV shows.


What Will Happen?

What Texas State Says:

When you log onto the Texas State University network with your NetID and password, you agree to abide by the University’s policy on the Appropriate Use of Information Resources. This policy explicitly prohibits the unauthorized duplication, use or distribution of copyrighted digital materials.


Texas State may receive a copyright complaint notice

These are notices sent to the University by industry representatives such as the RIAA and MPAA. The complaint identifies copyrighted material that is alleged to have been illegally shared, as well as the date and time of sharing incident and the IP address of the computer involved in the sharing activity. Upon receiving such a complaint, the DMCA requires Texas State to locate the infringing computer and stop the illegal file sharing activity in an expeditious manner.


What can happen to you?

In response to the DMCA complaint, Texas State may disable your computer’s access to the campus network until all infringing files have been removed. Other sanctions are also possible under the Appropriate Use policy.
The RIAA, MPAA and similar organizations are becoming increasingly aggressive in prosecuting alleged offenders in criminal court.


Important: Penalties for the first-time offenders can be fines of up to $250,000 and five years in jail; and/or civil court, where damages of up to $150,000 are possible for each illegally downloaded or shared song or movie title.


How do I stay legal?

Copying Music and Videos – What’s OK and what’s not:

Technology has made digital copying easier than ever, but just because advances in technology make it possible does not mean it’s legal to do so. Here are some tips on how to enjoy the music while respecting the rights of others in the digital world.


Internet Copying

  • It’s OK to download music from sites authorized by the owners of the copyrighted music, whether or not such sites charge a fee.
  • It’s never OK to download unauthorized music from pirate sites (Web or FTP) or through P2P system like Ares, BitTorrent, Lime Wire and others.
  • It’s never OK to make unauthorized copies of music available to others (that is, serving up music) on P2P systems.


Copying CDs

  • It’s OK to copy music that has been legally downloaded from one computer that you own to another that you own, but not for sharing or any commercial purpose.
  • There is no legal “right” to copy the copyrighted music from a CD. However, burning a backup copy a CD, transferring a copy to your computer’s hard drive, or putting it on your iPod or MP3 player usually won’t raise concerns as long as:
    • The copy is made from an authorized original CD that you legitimately own.
    • The copy is for your personal use and not for sharing with others. It is illegal to give away the copy or lend it to others for copying.


What sources are OK?

Legal ways to enjoy the music

By making the right decisions, you’ll be doing your part to make sure that the music keeps coming and that you are never accused of copyright infringement. Here are some legal options you have to enjoy the music:


Information Technology Assistance Center
512.245.ITAC (4822)
Information Security Office
512.245.HACK (4225)


Texas State Appropriate Use Policy

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