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Annual Notice to Students

Dear Students,
I urge you to take a few minutes and read the announcement below regarding the College Policy on Peer-to-Peer File Sharing. It is important to educate yourself about the appropriate use of p2p technologies to avoid campus and other penalties. The complete Policy can be found at http://www.cofc.edu/policies/p2p/.

Jeri O. Cabot, Dean of Students

All members of the College of Charleston community are required to follow the College Policy on Peer-to-Peer File Sharing. This Policy covers all electronic means to transmit, disseminate or store copyrighted materials including e-mail, web pages, and peer-to-peer file sharing software. The Policy also applies to all computers and applications utilizing the College network Please be sure that you have rights for any material you are making available or sharing on the College network.

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to copyright owner under the Copyright Act. These rights include the right to reproduce and distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.

The unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-topeer file sharing, may subject you to disciplinary action as well as civil and criminal liabilities. A detailed description of the College's policies concerning disciplinary actions for the unauthorized downloading and unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material is set forth in the Student Handbook.

In summary, upon receipt of an alleged violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA), the Office of the Dean of Students will notify the student of the claim. If this is a first offense and the student acknowledges a violation of this Policy by admitting to the claim, he/she will be asked to stipulate in writing that he/she will comply with this Policy in the future. If the Office of the Dean of Students does not receive such an acknowledgement and stipulation within the prescribed time period, or if the student challenges the validity of the claim, the Dean will initiate disciplinary proceedings. A second offense of this Policy will become a part of the student's disciplinary record. A third or fourth violation of this Policy will result in an automatic referral to the Honor Board through the Office of the Dean of Students. Sanctions may include fines and/or a disciplinary probation period or expulsion.

The College may suspend the rights of access to the College's network pending the final disposition of the disciplinary matter.

A summary of the current civil and criminal penalties for violation of federal copyright laws is as follows:

  1. The infringer may be required to pay the actual dollar amount of damages in an amount equal to the profits gained from the infringement or, alternatively, pay what are termed "statutory damages". Statutory damages can range from $750 to $30,000 for each work infringed, unless the court finds that the infringement was willful. In such cases, the maximum penalty is increased to $150,000.
  2. The court may also award attorney fees and court costs, issue an injunction to stop the infringing acts and impound the illegal works.
  3. The infringer can be sent to jail for up to 10 years.

Under the law, it is not necessary to establish that the infringer made a profit from the infringement in order to establish liability for the infringement. Therefore, liability can be imposed for common illegal peer to peer file sharing , for example the improper downloading of music and video files, even if the infringer has not gained a profit from the illegal activity. For Users who distribute any quantity of copyrighted materials, or advertise their services to Users even though they receive no financial benefit, they may also be subject to criminal investigations and incarceration.

The link for the full text of Chapter 5 of the Copyright Law of the United States of America. "Copyright Infringement and Penalties "can be found at http://www.copyright.gov/title1 7/92chap5.htm/.

The link for the full text of the College Policy on Peer-to-Peer File Sharing can be found at http://www.cofc.edu/policies/p2p/.