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Illegal File Sharing & Copyright Infringement

DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) violations by faculty, staff and students are up significantly. DMCA protects the rights of owners of copyrighted materials such as music, movies, TV shows, and computer software. Except when as you comply with fair use guidelines (see below), if you use software or websites to download or upload copyrighted works without permission or payment, then you are breaking the law.

Copyright infringement can result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense. Fines of up to $150,000 may apply for each separate, willful infringement. In addition, UC San Diego may also take administrative action against those who commit copyright infringement, including loss of networking privileges, disciplinary action (including job termination) for faculty and staff, and suspension for students.

Additional risks of illegal filesharing include the inadvertent downloading of viruses, malware, spyware and ransomware. Many Internet sites that contain copyrighted material for illegal downloads host ads that infect computers with malware, ransomware, and other potentially unwanted programs designed to deceive or defraud unwitting viewers. The content itself could also be packaged with malicious software that could damage your computer and infect other computers at UC San Diego.

What to do

  • Consult the Library’s Copyright Policy page for guidance on what constitutes fair use.
  • Use services that provide legitimate access to copyrighted material.
  • Do not download copyrighted material for which you do not have permission.
  • Make sure your computer has virus protection and anti-malware software installed and updated.

Category: Cybersecurity