Copyright Information for Network Users Policy

Establishes a user’s responsible for use of copyright materials and complying with copyright law.

I. Introduction                                                 

Copyright Information

Intellectual honesty is the foundation of our academic lives. Original thought and proper credit for others' work is central to learning and teaching. Like plagiarism, violation of copyright is a serious breach of the commitment to intellectual integrity that you made when you came to Columbia.

As a member of the Columbia community, you have access to the Internet and World Wide Web - from a departmental or personal computer or your CUNIX account. We hope that you will take advantage of this privilege. Please remember that you are responsible for what you do including complying with copyright law - whether using the Web to read or publish pages or using file-sharing programs like BitTorrent, Deluge, FTP, or others.

II.    Policy Text

You must respect copyright. Copyright protection covers any original work of authorship that is fixed in some tangible medium of expression. To be original does not mean that it has to have any literary merit. Even ordinary e-mail messages or postings are protected by copyright. Nor does the creator have to do anything for a work to be protected by copyright. A work is protected from the moment it is created, and it does not have to contain a copyright notice to qualify for protection.

What this broad coverage means is that just about any work you come across, including software, books, music, film, video, articles, cartoons, pictures, and e-mail, whether on the Internet, a CD, DVD, or tape, is likely to be protected by copyright. Copyright law prohibits anyone from copying, distributing, making derivative works, publicly displaying or publicly performing a copyrighted work unless the user has the express permission of the author or the user qualifies for a legal exception under the law. For more information on copyright law see the sites listed below.

All network users must comply with federal copyright law. Violations of copyright law are also violations of University policies. Copying, distributing, sharing, downloading, or uploading any information or material on the Internet may infringe the copyright for that information or material.

The University must take appropriate action under the terms of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, if it receives notice of copyright infringement. A notice of infringement could be a notice from a record or film industry representative that copyrighted music or a film is being downloaded and distributed without the permission of the copyright owner. Among other things, the University is legally required to take action to cause the infringing activity to cease. Actions may also include invalidation of an e-mail account, disconnecting a network port, and a report to the appropriate dean or manager for disciplinary action. In the case of repeat infringers, the University is required under the law to take away the infringer's computer account and terminate all access to our network.

In addition to any University action, the copyright owner may also take further legal action against the individual concerned.

File-sharing programs automatically distribute files. Please be aware that programs like BitTorrent and Deluge automatically turn on sharing when installed. If you use such programs, please ensure that you are not violating copyright by default, e.g., by sharing music or other media files or software you have loaded on your computer. Even unintentional infringement violates the law.

General Information on Copyright is available at: