Copyrights and Trademarks


The website is copyrighted by the University of South Carolina and may not be copied, reprinted, published, translated, hosted or otherwise distributed for any means, unless explicit permission is granted. If you believe that any faculty, staff or student member of the UofSC community has infringed on your rights as a copyright owner, please contact

The University of South Carolina is committed to upholding the U.S. Copyright Law. The resources available on this site are intended to educate students, faculty and staff about illegal use of copyrighted material.

University Statement on Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material
By making use of computing resources, users consent to allow information to be divulged to authorized law enforcement or other relevant agencies, in accordance with law. 

Copyright, obscenity, libel and other laws governing communication and publication apply to electronic media as well. Unauthorized copying or distribution of software or other copyright material is prohibited. Individual users are responsible and liable for such infringing activities. 

Summary of 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 FAQ's

University Policies for Unauthorized Distribution and Downloading
The University of South Carolina regularly receives copyright infringement takedown notices for users who have illegally shared copyrighted media files. USC works with law enforcement to protect copyrighted material.


Governing Policies

Members of the USC community are expected to obey all federal, state and local laws, as well as university policies and procedures. These guidelines apply to anyone, whether you are using university-owned computers or personally-owned computers on the university's network while associated with the university.

The following policies govern digital media and copyright protected materials at the University of South Carolina:

Copyright Overview
If you are copying or distributing electronic files such as copyrighted songs, movies, games or software and you are not paying for them or do not have the owner’s permission, there is a high likelihood that you are violating one or more federal laws.

The length of a copyright is generally the creator’s lifetime plus 70 years. During this time, the copyright owner is the only person authorized to copy, distribute, perform or display it publicly or to produce the derivative or adaptive works from it (like turning a book into a movie or song into a video). The copyright owner is the only one that can give permission to do any of these things.

The University of South Carolina owns many federally registered trademarks. Among them are the university's logo and logotype, the Gamecock logo, the Block C with Gamecock logo and the Cocky logo. Use of registered trademarks without the express permission of the university is a violation of federal and state law. Any business or individual who produces commercial items for public view or consumption must be officially licensed. For licensing information, call the Trademark and Licensing Office at 803-777-7313.

Fair Use Overview
“Fair Use” refers to case law that has developed over the years and is now embedded in copyright law. The doctrine of “Fair Use” recognizes that the exclusive right inherent in a copyright are not absolute and that others are entitled to make use of a copyrighted work that technically would otherwise infringe on the copyright owner’s exclusive rights.
When considering the “Fair Use” of a copyrighted work, think about these four factors:

  • The purpose of the use: Is the use commercial in nature or for nonprofit educational purposes? Educational use probably will be considered fair use as long as the other principals of fair use (nature, amount, effect on market) are not violated.
  • The nature of the work: Is the work more factual than creative? The more factual and less creative a work is (e.g. new report vs. short story), the more likely the work will be considered fair use.
  • The amount or substantiality of the portion used in relation to the work as a whole: You can only use a small portion of a work, but even if using a small portion, it cannot be considered the most important or key part of the work.
  • The effect on the potential market or profit of the copyrighted work: If the copyright owner suffers any significant monetary damages from a particular use, then the fair use claim would be invalid.

U.S. Copyright Law protects a wide range of creative works and grants to the owner of the work the exclusive right to make copies of the work, to make new works using part of the original work, distribute copies of the work and display or perform the work publicly.

Works protected by copyright:

  • written works
  • movies
  • music
  • photographs
  • art
  • software
  • original works of authorship

A provision in Copyright Law known as the DMCA allows internet service providers to shield themselves from liability for copyright infringement due to infringing activity by users of the service provider's networks. Owners of copyright materials, including record companies, movie studios and software manufacturers, routinely monitor internet traffic and identify IP addresses that are hosting or sharing files that appear to be unauthorized copies of the owners' works. In compliance with the DMCA, the copyright owners notify the service provider and the service provider must expeditiously remove or disable access to the allegedly infringing material. The individual responsible for infringing activity, not the service provider, will be responsible should the copyright owner wish to seek damages for infringing activity.

Text borrowed from the University of Washington 


Only the owner of copyrighted material may distribute that material. The DMCA allows the University, as an Internet Service Provider (ISP), a way to limit its liability of being sued should a user on the University's network distribute copyrighted material illegally. Copyright owners, or their representatives, regularly scan the university's network to locate instances of copyright infringement; they notify the university of the infringement, and the university must respond by removing access to the infringing material. A computer's owner is responsible for any infringing activity on it.

The university, as an internet service provider, is mandated by the DMCA to designate an "Agent to Receive Notification of Claimed Copyright Infringement". 

The university's designated agent is: 

Francisco Zaragoza
University of South Carolina
1300 Pickens Street
Columbia, South Carolina 29201
Phone: 803-777-1800 

If you believe that any faculty, staff or student of the university has infringed on your rights as a copyright owner, please contact the agent with the complete information as required by the DMCA [pdf]


Frequently Asked Questions

Copyrighted material that is illegally distributed over the Internet can take many forms, including but not limited to, the following:

  • Written works - may take the form of eBooks, PDFs, or HTML pages.
  • Films or television shows which have been recorded and digitized or ripped (or copied) from DVDs.
  • Music - may take the form of MP3s or WAV files ripped (or copied) from CDs.
  • Photographs - includes graphics copied from other web sites.
  • Software - includes software applications such as operating systems, applications that run on those operating systems and fonts.

Copyrighted material is illegally distributed online by several methods, including the following:

  • Peer-to-peer (or P2P) - many computers are connected in a network for uploading and downloading files.
  • FTP or file transfer protocol - one computer serves files to its clients on a continual basis.
  • IM or instant messaging - it is possible to transfer files between IM users.

Illegal file sharing affects every user of the university's network. If you are visiting our network from outside the university or you are on the university's network in an office, a residence hall or a public lab, you may experience slower internet speed as a result of illegal file sharing. 

Faculty, staff or students who use the university network to distribute files illegally, may also experience:

  • lawsuits.
  • increased virus attacks against your computer.
  • spyware installed on your computer without your knowledge.

Abstinence. Don't share copyrighted material. You will dramatically reduce the chances of your computer being infected by a virus, spyware being installed on your computer or legal action being taken against you.

For assistance cleaning peer-to-peer programs and related spyware from your computer, or assistance updating anti-virus software on your computer, call 803-777-1800.

A number of services exist where one may legally download music, software or movies. Typically, these are subscription services, where users pay for the material itself, and possibly pay a subscription fee. 

There are many companies that claim to offer legitimate music downloading services, but are not. Sometimes they charge a subscription fee, or charge for their software. It is sometimes difficult to discern whether a service is legitimate or not, so be careful!

The University of South Carolina is committed to providing alternative options for legally downloading media files.

Educase offers a list of legal alternatives for downloading.

Possibly. Most creative and intellectual property is copyright-protected by the author, publisher or producer. Some creative and intellectual property is not copyright-protected and is referred to as "free and open-source"(FOSS).

Downloading such materials to your computer is not a problem. However, if you have downloaded copyright-protected files to your desktop, you could be guilty of doing something illegal especially if you are sharing them. 

The University of South Carolina regularly receives copyright infringement takedown notices from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Business Software Alliance (BSA) and others. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) requires USC, as the Internet Service Provider (ISP), to research each of these takedown notices, to notify the alleged infringer and to remove the infringing content.

First time offenders are contacted and asked to cooperate by removing the infringing files and to limit the use of or remove the file sharing/P2P software. Second time offenders are referred to the Student Judicial Office for disciplinary action that can include loss of computer network privileges, fines and other sanctions. In some cases, the RIAA, MPAA and other organizations representing the copyright holders have actually sued students and recovered thousands of dollars in fines.

All activity impacts the network, including file sharing which, in some cases, has the potential of harming the network. When programs are downloaded and installed on your computer, they may automatically enable file sharing or "uploads" which means that other users can connect to, and download files from your “server” as long as it is attached to the network. You may never know that this is even happening, but your computer is now part of a file sharing/P2P network on which illegal file sharing may be occurring.

In addition, file sharing network traffic can saturate the network which will slow, or even stop all network activity completely. This is what network users at USC have experienced frequently in the past, and it is why some students complain of "slow Internet traffic."

In an effort to manage the network, which is a shared resource for USC students, faculty and staff, University Technology Services has separated the student and administrative networks, and purchased equipment for managing the "flow" of file sharing/P2P traffic. Despite our best efforts, however, excessive file sharing activity of any kind can and will negatively impact performance on the student network, and the only sure method of controlling it is to limit the use of file sharing programs.

The settings that allow your computer to be a member of the file sharing communities open a back door to your computer. With file sharing enabled, your computer’s unique address becomes community information, at least temporarily. During this time it becomes possible for an intruder to abuse this information, allowing him or her to “see” other elements on your desktop including personal files, social security numbers, correspondence, research and photographs. Beyond the possible compromise of your personal information, your computer and the network that it is connected to can also be used by intruders to launch attacks on outside locations. This could happen without your knowledge, but the footprint left behind would be yours.

Yes! Illegal copying and sharing of copyright-protected material are prosecutable offenses, and the RIAA, MPAA and other organizations have filed thousands of lawsuits and collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. In one case, someone's grandmother was forced to pay a several thousand dollar fine because her 13-year-old granddaughter used her computer to share copyright-protected files.

It is important to keep in mind that these organizations work for the producers and publishers of creative intellectual property - USC does not and is not in the business of identifying alleged copyright infringers. When we are served with adequate notice by these organizations, however, we are obligated to follow the law.

Yes! When file sharing is enabled, invisible activity takes place on your computer that taps the processing power normally reserved for essential work. Disabling file sharing can eliminate much unnecessary activity on your computer and the network, which should improve performance overall.

If you receive a copyright infringement complaint, it is because a copyright holder or an agent for a copyright holder has filed a written complaint with the university. Once notified, you have 96 hours to respond. If you do not respond, your Internet access will be stopped and will not be reinstated until the complaint against you is resolved. If you are a repeat offender, your Internet access is stopped and your case is refereed to the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity.  

If you have received a copyright infringement notice and it is your first complaint, you will be given 3 options:

  • Option 1 allows you to simply delete the infringing files and respond to the university’s copyright agent (via email) that you have done so. You must do this within 96 hours of receiving the notice. This will resolve your case. The university’s copyright agent will notify the complainant that the case has been resolved and the case is closed.
  • Option 2 allows you to challenge the complainant in federal court. The university will not be involved; the University will direct you to a website that provides you with the steps you’ll need to take.
  • Option 3 allows you to do nothing, in which case your internet access will be removed.

If you receive a complaint and it is your second notice, your Internet access will be stopped and your case is automatically referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity.

If you receive a third complaint, you will be suspended from the university.

For more information about violating federal copyright laws, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office


Trademarks and Licensing

The University of South Carolina owns many federally registered trademarks. Use of registered trademarks without the express permission of the University of South Carolina is a violation of federal and state law.

Contact the Office of Trademarks and Licensing for more details.