Illegal Filesharing

Don't use filesharing programs -

unless you know you are legally entitled to receive and distribute the content.

Most filesharing networks are used for sharing illegally acquired and published content. While some software producers offer torrent distribution of their software, it is most often offered in conjunction with other options such as direct download. In addition, we understand that Copyright considerations are more complicated with respect to art making (e.g., sampling, parody, etc) than they are in other applications. However, how copyrighted material is used should not be confused with how it is acquired (e.g., illegal downloads). More specific information about Copyright and fair use can be found on the library website.

Getting caught using or publishing copyrighted material in an unlawful way can have serious negative consequences from institutional to legal sanctions (Below).

Although no one at CCA is monitoring the content of what is uploaded and downloaded through its network, it's very easy for copyright owners and their agents to join the filesharing network and collect that information themselves.

The programs and networks themselves present security risks. The programs often come packaged with spyware, and the networks are congested with viruses pretending to be popular songs or movies. For the most part this is unnessary given the wide variety of Legal Options.

Legal Online Entertainment Options

Summary of the penalties for violating federal copyright laws (example included)

  1. Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.
  2. Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.
  3. Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense. For more information, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQ's at



This page is derived with permission and gratitude from "Filesharing Networks" at Columbia University.