Copyright and intellectual property
Princeton University is committed to the protection of intellectual property rights. The widespread use of digital technologies has elevated a number of concerns in this area. Today's ease of access to information, images, musical recordings, films, videos, television shows, podcasts, software and other intellectual property does not mean that such materials are necessarily part of the public domain or otherwise free for use without authorization.
Members of the University community who engage in any activity that infringes copyright-protected materials may be subject to disciplinary action. Under circumstances involving repeated instances of infringement through the use of the University’s computing network, such disciplinary action may include the termination or suspension of network privileges. For students, disciplinary action also may include disciplinary probation or greater penalty.
Those who violate copyright law may also be subject to civil claims for monetary damages and, in some cases, criminal penalties.
It is important to remember that copyright protection may apply even if you do not see the copyright symbol © or any other indication that the material in question has been officially registered with the United States Copyright Office. Infringement may be determined to have occurred if the copyrighted material is offered for unauthorized copy; actual distribution may not have had to occur.
More information on copyright law may be found at the website of the U.S. Copyright Office.
The rules of "fair use" pertain to Web and other electronic materials and media. Information about instructional use of copyrighted materials at Princeton may be found at: www.princeton.edu/fairuse.
Permissions for use
If you want to use an object or work, which may include an image, a background pattern, a section of text or a musical, film, television show, or video selection that you would like to use, you should make a good faith effort to determine that such use constitutes a “fair use” under copyright law or obtain permission of the owner or copyright-holder. As a general matter, you are free to establish links to Web pages you enjoy and which you would like to share with others. But you are not generally free to copy or redistribute the work of others on World Wide Web (or elsewhere) without authorization and proper attribution.
If an individual who holds the rights to material has explicitly and intentionally established a World Wide Web page or a public server, or clearly designated a set of files as being for shared public use, you may assume authorized access. Note that peer-to-peer file-sharing applications can establish shared space and share files without the conscious knowledge of the less-technologically sophisticated user. Although it is the responsibility of the user of such software to take proper precautions, it also is abusive to exploit the opportunity such a lapse may present.
It is your responsibility to restrict access to others' proprietary information that you may place on-line. For example, most popular peer-to-peer file-sharing software used to transfer music, film, video and other files among users, requires users to set certain protections explicitly. If someone fails to do so, anyone on the Internet can access without permission all files stored on the person's hard drive, and copyright infringement occurs.
The University makes available centrally through OIT and in distributed fashion through various academic and administrative departments, certain software for use by the campus community. In many cases, the license or contract covering the software states it may be used on the designated system, but that it may not be copied for use elsewhere, even elsewhere within the University. (This includes prohibitions against cross-assembly and reverse compilation.)
Many of the databases, electronic periodicals and other publications that the University offers through its libraries are subject to license agreements with outside vendors that impose restrictions on your use of these resources. Before using such licensed resources, you will be given notice of any relevant restrictions and are responsible for complying with them.
You are responsible for determining the restrictions on music files, video or television files, film files, podcasts, computer games, program, packages, and data before copying them in any form or permitting them to be copied by others, using University resources. If it is not clear whether you have permission to copy such material, assume you are not permitted to do so. If you are given material by its creator or vendor, or by an instructor or supervisor, whether for test or for your use, do not assume the right of redistribution. Your physical possession of the property does not necessarily bring with it permission to pass it on to others. You may not circumvent copyright protection even on original media you own, to make copies of the material. Members of the University community seeking permissions may not enter into agreements with vendors that would bind the University, unless the individual has proper authorization under the University Transaction Authority Policy.
Some people believe there is no difference between recording a television show or using a service like Tivo or a DVR to record it for later viewing, and downloading a copy of a television show from the Internet. There are several important differences, however, which may make the downloading a violation of copyright. Some people believe that, if they own a commercial disk of a film or television show, they can then download a copy legally under any circumstance. However, unless such copying has been authorized by the rights holder or for some reason qualifies as a “fair use” under copyright law, the downloaded file is an infringing copy. It also is a violation of copyright to allow unauthorized uploads of copyrighted material you may have downloaded legally, via Netflix or similar service.
When doing academic work, you are responsible for properly attributing all material--data, images, ideas, sounds, film, and verbatim text--that you find through electronic sources. The University's requirements and standards for the acknowledgment of sources in academic work, found in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, apply to all electronic media. At a minimum, you should provide a citation for an electronic source that includes the source's URL, author or site manager's name (if available) and the creation or download date.
A faculty member who develops and uses electronic course materials, or a staff member creating training materials, should be familiar with, and observe, the Rules and Procedures of the Faculty (or appropriate University regulations) related to such materials.
The entertainment industry in the United States has become quite vigilant in pursuing people who infringe copyright. The recording industry has established a website regarding legal and illegal sharing of music, and the Motion Picture Association of America has established a website related to film, television, and copyright. There is concern about copyright infringement as well among firms that produce software and computer games; literary agents regarding their clients' works; web designers; and photographers.