Help and Support / Internet
Digital Copyright Protection at BendBroadband FAQ's
This article contains some of the most-frequently asked questions concerning digital copyrights here at BendBroadband.
Is downloading copyrighted content really stealing?
If it's done without the permission of the people who own the copyright - yes, it's really stealing. According to the law - as well as to the performers, writers, software engineers, and other people who make their living from royalties - downloading a song or a movie or a piece of software in violation of its copyright is no different from walking into a retailer and shoplifting it.
What can happen to me if I'm caught downloading or sharing files in violation of their copyrights?
You must search for and delete any files on your computer that match the file name(s) specified in the violation notice. See sample letter.
Repeat offenders may also face a suspension of their BendBroadband account.
Even if you were unaware your activity was illegal, or if someone else used your computer to conduct illegal activity without your knowledge, you are still responsible for how your computer is used, and all the penalties described above still apply.
Of course, letters and account suspensions are just the sanctions imposed by BendBroadband. Industries represented by the content providers who generate the violation notices can - and have shown that they will - prosecute you to the full extent the law allows. Here's a brief summary of the Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws.
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 not 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, 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. For more information, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office, especially their FAQs. You can also find out more at musicunited.org.
In addition, you should be aware that in February 2010, a federal appeals court ordered Whitney Harper, a college student, to pay the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) $27,750! That works out to $750 a track for illegally sharing 37 songs when she was in high school. You can read about her case and many others at: Wired.
Doesn't my First Amendment right to free expression allow me to upload and download whatever I want?
No, it doesn't. The courts have shown that they regard copyright infringement as theft, not as free expression.
Isn't downloading and uploading of digital material protected by the Fair Use clause of copyright law?
No. Fair Use basically covers the use of copyrighted materials for academic kinds of activities - teaching, scholarship, research, news reporting, etc. It strictly regulates the nature of the copyrighted material; the specifics of how it's being used; the amount that's being used (as a proportion of the whole work); and the effect of such use on the potential market for that material. If you're sharing your Eminem CD with others on the Internet - even if you bought the CD legally - it's not fair use.
Is it illegal for me to share copyrighted content even if I don't charge for it?
Even if you're not making any money from doing it, it is still illegal for you to distribute material without permission from the copyright holder. Whether you are profiting or not, you are still taking money out of the pockets of musicians, actors, game developers, writers, etc. by giving away the fruits of their labors for free.
How can I tell when something is copyrighted?
If you get the material legally - by buying a CD, DVD, etc. - there is usually a copyright mark or warning on it somewhere. That's not always the case, though; and a work doesn't have to have a copyright symbol on it to be protected by law. When in doubt, assume it's copyrighted.
What is a copyright violation complaint notice?
This is a notice that is sent by industry representatives to BendBroadband, to complain of a specific copyright violation here. The complaint identifies the particular offense that is alleged to have taken place, as well as the date and time of the infringement and the IP address of the computer on which it happened.
What is the DMCA?
The DMCA is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. This legislation was enacted by the U.S. Congress in order to meet the unique challenges to traditional copyright law that were posed by digital media. BendBroadband’s policies with regard to notification of digital copyright violators and sanctions on abuse are based on the provisions of the DMCA.
You can find the U.S. Copyright Office's summary of the DMCA at http://www.loc.gov/copyright/legislation/dmca.pdf.
Can I legally download and share public domain material?
Yes. If the copyright has expired on a work and it is truly in the public domain, you can copy and distribute it freely. Be careful, though: just because something has gone out of print – and it's no longer being sold via retail, or being reproduced for purchase - doesn't always mean that it's in the public domain.
I got a letter saying that I'm distributing copyrighted songs on the Internet. I only download songs, so why am I being accused of distributing?
Be aware that peer-to-peer software products, like LimeWire and Bit Torrent not only provide the capability to download files from the Internet, but also to upload files. Although downloading requires deliberate action on the part of the user, uploading can occur without user prompting, unless he or she has turned off the software's file sharing feature. If you have peer-to-peer file sharing software installed on your computer, you should remove it. Remember that downloading copyrighted songs is illegal, too, if you do so without the permission of the copyright owner.
I received a copyright violation notice and I need to delete a copyrighted file from my computer. Where do I find it on my machine?
To look for specific files, Windows users should click on Start, then Search, then Find Files and Folders, and key in the file name. Mac users should click on Find... from the File menu of the Finder. If you need help, you can contact the BendBroadband technical support team at 541-382-5551.