File Sharing Memo

As you may be aware, the downloading of audio and video files on the Internet continues to make local and national headlines. I am writing today to clarify the legal implications, explain our policy as it relates to copyright law and provide alternative legal options for downloading.

It has always been against the law to copy someone else's work without permission and downloading songs from the Internet for personal use without permission and/or without paying the owner is considered theft. While not all material available on the Internet is protected by copyright, much of it is.

The U.S. Copyright Law, also found under Title 17 of the United States Code, contains serious penalties for violation of the law. Fines are assessed on each illegal copy of an item. Copying more than $1,000 worth of material can bring criminal penalties and include fines of up to $250,000 and prison terms of up to ten years.

The recording, software and movie industries have stepped up their efforts again to enforce copyright laws and are able to easily track people who maintain servers with illegal files. GVSU has had hundreds outside copyright complaints since 2001 that have been handled within the GVSU student judiciary system.

Our policy is to immediately block your network access if we are notified that a violation has occurred. You may be exposed to a civil lawsuit from the holder of the copyright and/or a criminal charge from the federal courts. Should you lie about your having the legal right to the material in question you may also face perjury charges. Complaints are referred to the Dean of Students office and can result in penalties of suspension.

Information on anti-piracy and lawsuits can be found at:

Please review the policies listed below for complete understanding of your rights, responsibilities and ownership of the accounts granted to you through the Information Technology department at GVSU.

      Digital Media Policy
      Conditions of Use
      Electronic Mail Policy

If you have any questions about this subject please contact John Klein, Associate Director of Academic Systems at (616) 331-2035 or [email protected].

Page last modified July 11, 2019