Reminder: don’t download or distribute unauthorized copyrighted material

UB students working on assignments with laptops.

Published March 6, 2023

UB encourages all students to act responsibly when it comes to downloading and sharing digital content.

It’s easier than ever before to get our hands on digital content. But if you obtain this material illegally, you are ultimately breaking the law.  



Sarah Zamer.

Sarah Zamer joined UB in January 2023 as an IT Communications Specialist for UBIT, focusing on video production. Prior to UB, she spent over a decade in the television news industry as a Director/Producer.

 A Buffalo native, Sarah enjoys spending time in Western New York with her family and friends. She also enjoys traveling, bowling, and the occasional round of golf. 

What should I know?

Downloading copyrighted music, movies, video games or TV shows without permission is illegal. It’s also against the law when you share these files with someone else, even if you aren’t aware that you are even sharing illegal content. 

In order to duplicate or distribute any copyrighted material, you need written permission from the copyright holder. 

If you download content illegally, it’s going to cost you. The FBI regularly investigates allegations of copyright infringement. You could pay a $250,000 fine for copyright violations. 

Be aware of the risks of utilizing Peer-to-Peer (P2P) software. These programs put you at risk for copyright violations because file sharing is automatically turned on when you first install them. This means that others now have access to your files, whether or not you gave them permission. 

What if I want to use copyright material for education?

Copyrighted works can be used for non-profit educational purposes under Fair Use (section 107 of the copyright law). Fair Use states that copyrighted material may, under certain circumstances, be quoted verbatim for criticism, teaching and research.  

Stay safe and protect yourself

If you have digital files on any of your devices that violates copyright, make sure to permanently delete them. 

If you downloaded P2P software on your computer, it’s best to uninstall it completely. Instead, use applications to purchase digital content like Amazon, Apple Music or Google Play. 
UB also provides free antivirus software for your personally owned computer so that you can keep your devices safe on and off campus.  

More resources

Read more information about UB’s Compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act

Learn more about how UB responds to allegations of online copyright infringement.

Visit University Libraries’ webpage on copyright and fair use for further information on this topic.