Intellectual Property

Media and Copyright

Legal Sources of Online Content

YouTube Information

Licensing Music

Other Sources

Consequences of Unauthorized Downloading

Criminal/Civil Liability

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 an 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 no 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 and 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.

Institutional Liability

A portion of the College Infringement Policy states: “Users violating the College Copyright and Infringement Policies may be subject to the full measure of disciplinary action up to and including warnings, suspension, and termination of College status and/or account holder’s computer and network access if the College, in its sole judgment, believes that circumstances relating to infringement of third party intellectual property rights warrant such action.”

A portion of the College Copyright Policy states: “College Personnel or students who disregard the Copyright Policy may be in violation of the Church Educational System Honor Code, may jeopardize their employment, may place themselves at risk for possible legal action, and may incur personal liability.”

Church Statements Regarding Media and Copyright

“Deceitful acts supposedly veiled in secrecy, such as illegally downloading music from the Internet or copying CDs or DVDs for distribution to friends and families, are nonetheless deceitful. We are all accountable to God, and ultimately we will be judged of Him according to our deeds and the desires of our hearts (see Alma 41:3). “For as [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).” David A. Bednar, “Things As They Really Are,” Ensign, June 2010.

“Church members should strictly observe all copyright laws . . .” “Copyright Guidelines,” Music Callings and Resources, Official LDS Church website

“Many people rationalize committing ‘small’ acts of dishonesty such as keeping extra change they receive in the grocery store, taking home supplies from the workplace, being less than accurate on our tax returns, disobeying copyright laws, and so on. Yet even so-called small errors need to be eradicated from our lives, for anytime we are dishonest, we are breaking one of the Lord’s commandments.” Marcos A. Aidukaitis, “Honesty in Small Things,” Ensign, September 2003.