The Importance of Acting Responsibly in the Use of Copyrighted Materials

Welcome new and returning Ball State University students to a new school year. Congratulations on your pursuit of academic achievement.

There are a number of things that new and returning students need to be particularly careful about, and one of these is the possibility of downloading copyrighted materials, such as songs, games, software, and movies. Downloading these materials, which are protected by copyright, can easily result in legal problems and heavy fines from the copyright owner for the one who downloads them.

It is also possible to infringe the Copyright Law by sharing these types of files through peer-to-peer Internet sites like BitTorrent, uTorrent, or Frostwire. Readers may recall that the peer-to-peer site LimeWire is currently under a court order to stop distributing LimeWire software. This was because of unauthorized uses of copyrighted files through their site.

The Copyright Law guarantees several exclusive rights to any owner of a copyright:

1. The right to allow reproduction

2. The right to allow distribution

3. The right to allow public performance

4. The right to allow public display

5. The right to allow derivative works

Copyright infringement occurs most often by violating the first two rights listed above without the copyright owner’s permission. This same set of rights applies to a student’s works. In general, if you create it, you own it.

Ball State University is unique when it comes to assisting and educating our students in regards to copyright issues, including those illegal downloads and importantly, the ownership rights that students have. To this end, the University Libraries have created a copyright resource, Copyright for Students Page,

A basic guide on copyright can be downloaded as a PDF here,

For additional information, please contact Dr. Fritz Dolak, Copyright and Intellectual Property Manager.   ◙

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