When deciding whether content is legal to copy or share a good rule of thumb is - if the item is sold online or in a store it is probably ILLEGAL to copy or make available (share) with others without the permission of the copyright holder. The common situations below may also help give a feel for what is legal or not. Specific questions or requests for legal advice can be directed to the Student Legal Services office.
Here are a few examples of what is legal and not:
- Copy my friend’s purchased content from his/her MAC/PC/portable player to mine? (assuming you do not already own a legal copy of that content) – NOT LEGAL
- Download copyrighted material (stuff sold online or in stores) from a P2P network without paying for it? – NOT LEGAL
- Share tracks I legally purchase on a P2P network? – NOT LEGAL
- Remove the digital rights management (DRM) protections from a track so I can copy it to my iPod, iPhone, or other portable player? – NOT LEGAL
- Download otherwise purchasable music, videos, games for free from a website in a foreign country – NOT LEGAL
- Make a personal backup copy of content I purchase – LEGAL
- Make copies of licensed-waved music, video, games, software – Usually LEGAL
- Is BitTorrent legal? – YES, but using BitTorrent or any other peer-to-peer file sharing software to copy and share copyrighted material w/o copyright holder permission is NOT LEGAL.
- Use email or IM to distribute copyrighted material to friends. – NOT LEGAL