Copyright and Acceptable Use Policy
in the CG Labs
The Computer Graphics and Interactive Media Department is devoted to
creating, discovering, and sharing ideas, knowledge and information in the CG
Labs. The Department is also committed to complying with United States law by
upholding the rights of copyright holders. To this end, here are some
frequently asked questions about acceptable use, copyright, and the use of CG
Lab equipment and network storage.
What is fair use?
You may have heard of fair use. It is discussed in the U.S. Copyright Act.
Fair use must be judged on a case-by-case basis. It does not mean that
if you think it's fair that you should be able to use a work, it's okay.
There are four criteria to evaluate when considering if a use is fair:
- purpose and character of the use (why do you
want to use it?)
- nature of the copyrighted work (what kind of
work is it?)
- amount and substantiality used (how much do
you want to copy?)
- effect on the potential market for or value
of the work (will your copying contribute to decreasing the value or
demand for the work?)
For example, it's fine to quote from a book when writing about it, but
it's not okay to reproduce the entire book.
Fair use can be tricky to define, so here are some links that do a pretty
good job of explaining it.
What kinds of activities are probable violations of copyright law?
- Copying and sharing most MP3s, images,
movies, or other copyrighted material.
- Posting or plagiarizing copyrighted material
on your personal webspace.
- Unauthorized downloading of anything that you
don't already own a copy (software, MP3s, movies, etc.)
applies to a wide variety of works, and covers much more than is listed
above. If you're in doubt about a particular work, assume that it is
What is considered unacceptable use in the CG
The following activities are forbidden by Office of Technology and the
CGIM Department. (You signed this in order to be on the network. Please see
the policy if you need to review details.)
- Commercial for-profit activities. You can't
run a business or even engage in for-profit activities over the campus
- Generating excessive network traffic or
consuming excessive network resources apart from educational use. This
often occurs when file-sharing programs (Audiogalaxy, Bearshare, KaZaA,
etc.) are used to share a large number of files.
- Mass emailing.
- Distributing any kind of obscene materials.
- Threatening harm by harassing, stalking,
transmitting obscenities, or other criminal offenses.
- Attempting to gain access to an individual's
account or to nonpublic parts of the UD network.
- Attempting to intercept data transmissions on
the UD network.
- Engaging in any electronic activities that
violate any local, state, national, or international law.
Are MP3s illegal?
Some MP3s can be legally obtained through online subscription services or
from sites officially permitted by the copyright holders to offer certain MP3
downloads. Some are copyright free. Most MP3s don't fall into either
- MP3 files are completely legal, but it's
illegal to have MP3s of music recordings that you don't already own, or
to which you haven't obtained the rights.
- In almost all cases, sharing MP3s over the UD
network is also illegal.
- United States copyright law
allows you to create MP3s only for your personal use and
only of songs to which you already have rights. You can make MP3s only
of songs for which you already own the CD or tape. And personal use
means for you alone - you can't make copies and give or sell them to
How could I get caught if I violate the Copyright
or Acceptable Use Policy?
- CGIM faculty do not routinely police the CGIM
drives for illegal activity, but they must respond to formal complaints
- Organizations like the Recording Industry Association
of America (RIAA) frequently police file-sharing programs for
copyrighted material belonging to the artists they represent.
- Other agencies like the FBI are vigilant in
monitoring some areas, such as the traffic in child pornography.
- If you establish a business online, it's a
likely bet that your competitors will be the first to notify us of your activity.
- Some students are under the impression that
their activity on the Internet is largely anonymous or untraceable, but
this is untrue. In fact, almost all your activity on the Internet is
logged on many of the computer systems you use, and while these logs
usually are not inspected, they certainly can be used to confirm or
implicate you in illegal activity. Simple. Do things the right way from
How often do students get caught or prosecuted?
- Many students are under the impression that
they would never be prosecuted or punished for simply sharing MP3s on
the network. This is not the case.
- Because federal privacy laws prevent details
of University proceedings from being released, most students have not
read about nor heard of students being prosecuted for sharing MP3s. This
may mislead you into a false sense of security; in fact, students are
regularly accused of copyright infringement and held accountable for
- As an example, in a one-month period at the
end of the Fall 2002 semester, four students were investigated for
copyright infringement. While the number of students may seem very low,
the sanctions for these violations are serious.
What will happen if I get caught?
- If, after a CGIM investigation, the
allegations against you appear to be true, your access to the CG Labs will
be immediately suspended, which means that you will not be able to use
CG Lab facilities for a specified amount of time. Depending on the
seriousness of the allegation, the Office of Technology may also take
punitive measures including, but not limited to, cessation of all UD computer
services including email.
- You will be notified through several means of
communication of the apparent appropriate use violations, and be asked
to set up a time to meet with CGIM faculty.
- In this meeting, CGIM faculty will present
the allegations made against you and the evidence collected to support
them. If it is a copyright violation, you will have an opportunity to
make a legal response if you believe you did not break any copyright
- If the University terminates your login
priviliges, in order to restore your network connectivity, you will have
to re-sign an agreement with UD under which you will agree to cease the
activity that violates the appropriate use policy. Another infraction
may result in the permanent loss of your access to the UD network.
- In addition, after your meeting with CGIM
faculty, a summary of the discussion will be forwarded to the Office of Student Life and the Office
of the VPAA. Please do not
assume that just because you're not the only student sharing MP3s, the CGIM
Department willl not find you responsible for a violation.
- If found responsible by the University for
serious and repeated unacceptable actions, you could face probation,
community service time, an official letter of sanction in your academic
record, suspension, or even expulsion. The University maintains a copy
of all judicial records for ten years, so these outcomes might prove
devastating to your future job prospects or academic pursuits.
For full details of the procedure for handling
copyright complaints, see …
But if everyone breaks the rules, how can
you punish just one person?
- Just because the CGIM Department cannot
administer punishments equally does not mean that they cannot administer
them at all. As with speeding tickets, "everyone else was doing
it" will not satisfy an enforcement officer or provide an excuse
for illegal behavior. The faculty of the Department is tasked with
maintaining and protecting the CGIM network and will take whatever steps
necessary to ensure the its integrity.
- Pleading ignorance of these rules or the
applicable laws is also equally useless in an enforcement situation, so
educate yourself before you decide to break the law.
- You should recognize that violating the copyright
or acceptable use policy stated here is a significant risk that you may
If you still have questions about fair use and copyright issues
within the CG Labs, you can send them to Alan Garfield, Chair, CGIM
Department, at email@example.com. Also,
you can visit the U.S. Copyright office at http://www.loc.gov/copyright/ .