Copyrighted Material FAQ

How can I use copyrighted material?

In general, you must have permission from the copyright holder to copy, distribute, modify, display or perform their work. There are few legal ways you can use copyrighted material in these ways without first obtaining permission from the copyright holder.

How does the college handle infringement complaints relating to the use of copyrighted material for official college business?

East Mississippi Community College has the twin objectives of minimizing liability while also providing legal support for the activities of faculty and staff.

How does the college handle infringement complaints regarding my personal use of copyrighted materials?

The college follows official takedown and notification procedures as established by federal law.

What are East Mississippi Community College's policies regarding electronic copyright infringement?

East Mississippi Community College will terminate the computer accounts of repeat infringers. Other disciplinary actions may also be taken.

How is peer-to-peer (p2p) file sharing software related to copyright infringement?

Although peer-to-peer file sharing programs are not illegal, they may be used for the illegal downloading and distribution of copyrighted materials such as music, movies and software. Uploading or downloading copyrighted material without permission can be infringement, whether it’s done by p2p software or other means.

What risks am I taking by using peer-to-peer file sharing software?

Peer to peer file sharing and illegal downloading can be a problem for college because the colleges provide students and employees significant bandwidth distribution for research and scholarship. Sharing and/or downloading copyrighted music, videos, and film is both illegal and against East Mississippi Community College policy. It is critical that students and employees understand that illegal file sharing and downloading may have serious consequences and that they should refrain from such activity. The recording and motion picture industries have adopted an increasingly aggressive position in finding and prosecuting individual infringers, particularly in the college setting, for the sole purpose of making an example of impermissible uses and deterring other infringing activities.

The following page contains helpful information regarding East Mississippi Community College’s policies regarding copyright infringement and illegal file sharing and/or downloading: Acceptable Use Policy

Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Law

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 infringement.

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.

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, especially their FAQ's.

How can I lawfully download copyrighted material?

A highly recommended alternative is that users subscribe to a legal downloading service so they can legally and permissibly download digital media and keep themselves safe from prosecution and/or revocation of their Internet & Computing privileges. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) lists many of their approved music downloading services.

What is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)?

In October 1998, Congress and the President signed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Of importance to universities is the provision in the DMCA which limits liability of online service providers for copyright infringement where certain preventive measures are adopted. The intent is to encourage voluntary compliance with copyright law as it applies in digital media and to discourage illegal downloads and file sharing.

East Mississippi Community College has elected to comply with the conditions and procedures set out in the DMCA for notice and take down of infringing content. Owners of copyrighted works, or persons authorized to act on their behalf, who claim copyright infringement may notify East Mississippi Community College’s designated agent of the alleged infringement.

Below are some of the most significant provisions of the DMCA relevant to college Internet Service Providers (ISP’s):

  • It is a criminal offense to circumvent anti-piracy measures built into software.
  • ISP’s, including universities like East Mississippi Community College, that provide bandwidth, Internet, and other electronic services to their faculty, students, and staff, are not susceptible to vicarious infringement exposure due to the activity of their users simply by providing the network transmitting the illegal files, provided that the ISP complies with the requirements of the DMCA. Note that this “safe harbor” applies only to those instances where East Mississippi Community College acts solely as an ISP, and not as a content provider. If the person posting the allegedly infringing material is a college employee and the material is work-related, East Mississippi Community College would be functioning as a content provider and the “safe harbor” would not apply.
  • ISP’s are liable if they have knowledge of infringing downloads and fail to remove the infringing material from users’ sites.

A summary of the DMCA can be found at:

How do I report a copyright violation?

East Mississippi Community College’s designated agent for receiving notices of copyright infringement is:

Mike Tvarkunas 
District Director of Information Technology

PO BOX 158
Scooba, MS 39358

The notification must be a written communication that contains substantially the following:

  • A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
  • Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed, or, if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works at that site.
  • Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing and information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material.
  • Information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party.
  • A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
  • A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the exclusive right that is alleged to be infringed.

What do I do if someone violates my copyright?

Students and staff should seek private legal counsel if they believe their copyright has been infringed upon. Infringements of copyrights owned by East Mississippi Community College should be reported to the Office of General Counsel.


Other important copyright information may be obtained from: 

United States Copyright Office

Campus Copyright Rights and Responsibilities: A Basic Guide to Policy Considerations


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