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University Information Services


Information Services regularly receives complaints from copyright agencies about copyright material which is being held on, and distributed from, machines attached to the CUDN without the permission of the copyright owner.

Typically the reports are about material which is being illegally distributed via one of the popular file-sharing networks (e.g. Gnutella, BitTorrent).

Information Services takes this issue seriously and therefore acts quickly both in replying to the complainant and in ensuring that the copyright material is removed. We aim to ensure that material ceases to be visible within the working day. If the material is on a machine in a College or department then the computer staff of the Institution are instructed, in accordance with the Authorization for Use of the CUDN, to ensure either that the material is removed promptly from the machine or that the machine serving the material is removed from the CUDN. In some cases, where there is difficulty in making contact with the relevant people, Information Services staff may need to take immediate action. This may entail blocking the individual address or, in extreme cases, blocking transmission from the whole institution. Information Services expects that the College's Senior Tutor or the Head of Department, as appropriate, be informed and that disciplinary action be undertaken according to the policy of the institution. Disciplinary proceedings under rules 9 and 10 of the Information Strategy and Services Syndicate may also be initiated.

All users are reminded that copyright material must not be kept on machines attached to the CUDN unless the copyright holder of the material has given permission (see Use and Misuse of Computing Facilities). This rule applies to all material, including CDs, DVDs, music, films, photographs and books. You are in breach of copyright if you hold such material on your system, even if you are not distributing it to others and own a copy of the material in another format, and you are responsible for what is on your system whether you put it there yourself or allowed others to do so.

Note that:

  • just because a piece of music already exists in digital form (using music purely as an illustration) does not mean that the recording (or words or music) is in the public domain and that it may be copied;
  • if, for example, a CD or DVD containing copyright material is owned by a computer user, the user's right to copy or further disseminate the material is typically severely restricted by the copyright and current copyright law;
  • computer users should be aware that, after installing and using certain file-sharing software, their computer may be used for the dissemination of copyright material by others; users must be aware of this possibility and guard against it.

Further Information

Changes in the law, 2014

The government is making a series of small but important changes to copyright law. Some of these, concerned with public administration, accessible formats for disable people, research, education, libraries and archives, came into force on 1st June 2014. Others, concerned with personal copies for private use, and quotation and parody, will come into force later.

For further information, see the Intellectual Property Office page on changes to copyright law and guidance, in particular the consumer guidance notes for different groups.

Copyright use and guides