It is an infringement to breach copyright laws. Both staff and students are required to observe copyright rules and not infringe, or authorise an infringement of, copyright. Staff and students are also required to observe the University's Rules for Use of Computing Facilities.

The Copyright Act provides the community several provisions that allow the use of copyright material, such as personal use. For staff and students of the university there are additional provisions that allow the use of copyright material for certain uses, such as research & study and educational purposes. In all the copyright provisions, limitations and restrictions apply. If they are not respected, then a copyright infringement has occurred.

Staff and students should be aware of the University's policies on intellectual property (IP) and computer use, as well as related topics.

Linking to Infringing Material

It may also be an infringement to authorise an infringement of copyright. A person is likely to have authorised an infringement when they have requested or instructed someone else to infringe copyright, or have exercised a degree of control over the person infringing copyright or the means by which the infringing copy was made, or has countenanced, sanctioned or approved the infringement. You can be liable for unauthorised copies made on your equipment if you do not make users of the equipment aware of their copyright obligations.

Identifying Infringing Material

Material is often made available on website without permission from the creator or the copyright owner and as such is infringing copyright.  You should not knowingly use or provide links to infringing material or websites, as you are authorising an infringement.  Legal action can still be taken for authorising infringement of copyright.

It can be difficult to identify whether or not material is made available legally.

Material - particularly music, films and TV programs - that can be freely downloaded via peer-to-peer (p2p) software is often infringing material. Under no circumstances should this infringing material be downloaded and used. Downloading this material is both illegal and a violation of University policy. Staff or students found to have downloaded this material using University computers and networks may be subject to disciplinary action.

Tips for determining legitimate material

What Happens if Someone Infringes My Copyright?

If copyright or moral rights in material that you have created or own copyright in in infringed, you have the right to take action against the individual or organisation responsible. You need to make sure that their use is actually an infringement. There are many provisions in the Copyright Act that allow people to use copyright material without requiring permission, such as for research and study and educational use. Be aware that if you make material available on the web, then people use material according to the copyright laws of the country that they are in and these copyright laws may vary from Australian copyright law.

Initially, you should contact the person responsible for the infringement and request that they cease using your material without your permission. You may like to negotiate an agreement with them if you are happy for them to keep using your work.

If your work is being made available on a website without your permission, you should contact the website maintainer. Most major websites have policies and procedures on how they deal with copyright infringements. This process for informing websites of a breach of copyright is known as issuing a takedown notice.

TakeDown Notices

If material on a websit is found to be in breach of copyright the copyright owner, or their representative, has the right to issue a notice of claimed infringement and ask that the material be removed from the website. These are often called Take Down Notices. Individuals or organisations that maintain websites have a responsibility to act upon a Take Down Notice so as to limit the chance of legal action being taken against them.

Issuing Take Down Notices

If you believe that material in which you own copyright is being used illegally or without you permission you have the right to send a take down notice to the individual or organisation that maintains the webpage. Information on how to issue a takedown notice can usually be found on the website, either on their copyright page or as part of their terms and conditions. Most US websites require that your takedown notice complies with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Infringement Notification process. The website provides an good explanation of how to submit a DMCA takedown notice as well as a template entries/25581

When issuing a takedown notice, your notification must include :

  • sufficient information to enable the individual or organisation to identify the copyrighted work that is the subject of the claimed infringement or, if multiple copyrighted works are involved, a representative list of such works;
  • information reasonably sufficient to permit the individual or organisation notified to locate and access such material;
  • information reasonably sufficient to permit the individual or organisation notified to contact you, such as your name, address, telephone number and email address;
  • An indication of whether you are the owner of the content, or if someone is acting on your behalf. Details of all parties must be supplied including the relationship between them;
  • An indication of what law (including country) is being transgressed.

If the person or organisation to which you issued the takedown notice does not respond, you should seek independent legal advice.

Receiving A Take Down Notice

Flinders University has a specific process for dealing with take down notices and generally if a take down notice is received it is through this procedure however sometimes copyright owners may not follow this process and send a letter directly to a staff member - particularly a webpage maintainer. If you receive a letter asking for material to be taken down from a web page within the Flinders University Domain, contact ISD's network support group or the Copyright Officer.

If you receive a take down notice for a webpage outside the Flinders University domain you will need to seek independent legal advice on how to act upon the request.

Peer to Peer Software

'Peer to peer' applications allow users to participate in a file sharing 'community' or 'network', allowing users to search the network for files that may interest them and to bring those files to their own computers. Use of P2P software at the University is allowed but staff and students may not use P2P applications to acquire copyrighted materials without permission from the copyright owner.

Most P2P programs also automatically share files from the user's disk to other users worldwide, unless the user takes specific actions to prevent this. Sharing copyrighted materials without permission is quite likely to subject the user and the University to legal sanctions. Moreover, the traffic such sharing generates can easily cause problems for other users at the University. There may also be security issues involved. Any of these outcomes can violate University policy.

The University is required by copyright law to take action when notified that someone on its network is distributing copyrighted materials. The University will not protect individuals who distribute copyrighted material unlawfully.

Failure to restrict P2P applications appropriately, whether you are aware of the violation or not, may result in legal and or disciplinary action.

P2P software has been used in particular to share and download recorded music illegally. There are provisions, such as the Music Licence and the provisions for personal use, that allow users to copy recorded music for either educational purposes (the music licence) or for personal use. However, all of these provisions require that the original work being copied is a legal, non-pirate copy. You cannot use either of these provisions to download music illegally from a P2P network. For more information see: The Music Licence or Personal Use.

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