Digital Copyright Infringement

Digital Copyright Infringement, Peer-to-Peer, and File Sharing at KUMC

Why pay for something when you can get it for free? The answer is "when not paying breaks the law".  Downloading the latest album from your favorite artist or having a friend make a copy for you on CD instead of paying for it can get you both into big trouble for copyright infringement.  This site is devoted to educating KUMC faculty, staff and students about what constitutes digital copyright infringement and its consequences, what role peer-to-peer technology plays, and the University's stance on both.

What is copyright infringement?

Copyright infringement is the act of violating the exclusive rights of a copyright owner. Examples include copying or performing a work without the copyright owner's permission, or creating a work of one's own that derives from a copyrighted work. KUMC is committed to insuring that intellectual property rights belonging to the creators of original works are protected. Visit the Copyright Office website for more information, including KUMC's Copyright Policy and Guidelines.

What is file sharing?

File sharing is a general term for sharing digital files electronically. These files could be music or other audio recordings, movies, television shows, games or other computer software, or any other type of digital file.

Sharing any file of a work that you did not create yourself as an original work, that is not in the public domain, and for which you do not have permission to share, is a crime and can have serious consequences. Sharing in this context includes everything from sharing a multitude of files over peer-to-peer networks to copying a single work for a friend.

What is peer-to-peer?

Peer-to-peer (P2P) is a method of file sharing that allows millions of computers connected to the Internet to trade digital files with each other.  By installing P2P software, you can easily scan for shared files on these computers and download the file of your choice.  You can also share files or your entire hard drive so that others can download your files. 

While P2P can have legitimate uses, the most predominant use is to find and download copyrighted movies, music, software and information.  Both sharing and downloading copyrighted material that you do not have the right to share is a form of copyright infringement, as it violates the copyright holders' exclusive rights to copy and distribute their work.

One common misconception about P2P is that it's anonymous because you don't have to register or provide a name or email address. However, that's a falsehood - it is not anonymous, not secret, and your actions can be traced back to you.  Additionally, installing P2P software can be very risky because many of these applications are bundled with spyware or other malicious programs that can compromise your computer's security.  By installing these programs, you risk damage to your computer and files by viruses or malicious files, accidentally or unknowingly sharing private files on the Internet, or even the use of your computer in another illegal activity (such as identity theft, sending spam, or attacking other computers.)

Last modified: Apr 08, 2014
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