Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Policy


Unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing of copyrighted material, distribution of others' copyrighted works and illegal downloading violate federal copyright law. The following policy is provided so that College community can avoid violating the law. 


This policy applies to all members of the College Community. 


The Internet has made peer-to-peer file sharing an easy and popular way to share information in digital formats. However, most music and video that are produced and sold commercially are protected by law through copyright and cannot be freely shared.

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 reproduced or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.

Peer-to-peer file sharing of copyrighted material is strictly prohibited on the College network at Columbia College. Columbia College employs a network infrastructure that actively monitors Internet traffic and blocks all identified peer-to-peer activity.


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 that $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringement.

For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorney' 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 U.S. Copyright Office website.

Columbia College students charged with copyright infringement may be in violation of the Student Code of Conduct and subject to disciplinary procedures as described in the Student Behavioral Misconduct Policy.

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