Music & Movies And Copyright
Overview: Illinois Wesleyan University expects individuals affiliated with the University
to uphold copyright laws ensuring the protection of intellectual property, giving
authors due credit, and demonstrating responsible citizenship.
Link to Full Policy
What you need to know about sharing music, movies, and more
There can be grave consequences for those who engage in illegal sharing of copyrighted
material. This FAQ is meant to help you understand what is legal and what isn't.
What is Digital Rights Management and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act?
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) passed by Congress in 1998, makes it illegal
to copy or share intellectual property--music, videos, games, software and other materials--without
permissions. Illinois Wesleyan University adheres to the regulations and guidelines
outline by the DMCA.
Digital Rights Management (DRM) refers to the technologies used by publishers and
copyright owners to control access to and usage of digital data. The DMCA makes it
illegal to produce and distribute technology that circumvents these copy-protection
Is it really illegal to share music and movies from my computer?
Yes, in most cases. More specifically, it is illegal unless you own the copyright
on the work or have permission from the owner to distribute it. For the vast majority
of material (e.g., anything that is for sale in stores or online) it is illegal to
download or upload copies. There are a few exceptions:You can legally distribute material
that you have the rights to, e.g. material that you create and publish yourself.
If the owner (typically the creator) gives you permission to give away the material,
e.g. CDs of your friend's band.
Streaming via iTunes is legal for music purchased from the iTunes music store.
Unauthorized downloading or uploading of copyrighted material can result in legal
action against you, including lawsuits by the copyright holder or their agent (such
as the RIAA). It is also a violation of Illinois Wesleyan's usage policy
Is it okay to share just within the Illinois Wesleyan Community?
No. It's also not "safe" to break the law on campus; students at other colleges have
been sued for illegal sharing that was limited to their campus. They settled out of
Is it legal to just download material from peer-to-peer services, as long as I don't
There are legal ways to download copyrighted materials, for instance from Emusic
, Ruckus, the iTunes Music Store
, and many more that you can find with a quick web search. Each of these services
has some kind of revenue: simple sales, monthly fees, or advertising.But peer-to-peer
sharing of copyrighted material without the copyright holder's permission is illegal,
whether you are serving it up or downloading it. A useful analogy is receiving stolen
property. And in most cases, the software you use to download files automatically
makes your machine into a server, so you may be serving files without even realizing
Isn't sharing music protected as "fair use" under copyright law?
The doctrine of fair use is an important one, especially in an academic setting. But
the vast majority of online music sharing is done in ways that do not constitute fair
use. More information is available at the websites below.
Will Illinois Wesleyan protect my identity or defend me if I am sued?
No. Illinois Wesleyan will comply with legal subpoenas.
But sharing is good for the record companies -- their sales keep going up!
That's a good point to raise if you are arguing to change the governing law. But it
doesn't change the current legal setting.
What risks result from sharing music online?
Copyright holders can file lawsuits against you (a tactic that they are currently
pursuing aggressively). The maximum penalty can be very large and most cases are settled
out of court. They can also notify Illinois Wesleyan of infringements that are taking
place on campus, and require us to intervene to stop them.
Where can I learn more?
Are there legal online sources for copyrighted music and movies?
Still Need Help?