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Copyright: Copyright Infringement

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If you copy or share someone else’s copyrighted works without their permission and your activity is not covered by a copyright exception, you have probably infringed their copyright. This page provides some useful guidance on how best to avoid legal action and what to do if you are contacted.

What you might need to know if you breach copyright

Overview of liability

If you infringe someone else’s copyright, both you and the University may be liable in the event of legal action. This is the case even if you didn’t realise that what you had done was an infringement of copyright.

Copyright infringement may be regarded as a breach of student regulations and staff employment terms and in some cases may be subject to disciplinary procedures.

We recognise that serious infringement cases in education are rare. The University is, however, seriously committed to support you in your work and study by taking a responsible yet critical approach to copyright.

We expect you to make informed decisions about your use of copyright material. So if you follow our copyright guidance, you should hopefully reduce the risk of having to address infringement claims.

Peer-to-peer filesharing

If you use peer-to-peer (referred to as P2P) software to download material, you should remove the software from your PC if connecting to the Durham University network.  If you don't remove the P2P software, it's likely that you'll be sharing any files you have downloaded, which will be a breach of the our copyright policies and IT Regulations.

We have been known to take such breaches of  extremely seriously and if you are reported for distributing copyright material (knowingly or unknowingly), your IT Account could be suspended.

If you are contacted by someone claiming to be the copyright owner of a work and asking for money or for the University to take action, contact us for support.

The most common type of copyright infringement letters are from agencies representing photographers whose work is used on our website without permission. These often demand payment for the licence fee the photographer would have charged for the use of the work.

You should not assume that you have infringed copyright just because you've been contacted by a rights holder. But you should respond quickly to minimise any financial and reputational risk.