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Copyright and Scholarship


Music & Images

Copyright and scholarly communication information for the Boston College community.


The resources listed below provide an introduction to the copyright/intellectual property issues associated with the use of images.


Copyright issues are particularly complex with regard to music;  these links are intended as only an introduction to the issues involved. The glossary recently posted on the Music Librarians' Association web site, below, may be helpful here.

File Sharing

It is imperative to understand the difference between legal downloads and illegal file sharing.  In the peer-to-peer file sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement. Although there are exceptions under the law that allow copying or distribution of protected works, the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) software programs to download or upload copyrighted music and movies without permission of the copyright owner would virtually never qualify for an exception. Criminal and civil penalties may result from copyright violation, in addition to disciplinary action by Boston College.  

Boston College Technological and Information Resources Use Agreement 

Here are some common examples of copyright infringement:

  • Joining a file sharing network and downloading unauthorized copies of copyrighted music for free.
  • Sharing unauthorized MP3 copies of a song on the Internet or through a file-sharing network.
  • Sharing copies of a copyrighted song with your friends through email, messaging or by giving them copies on burned CDs or flashdrives.

Do not install P2P file sharing software on your computer.

  • P2P applications will search for and share content on your computer with others. P2P applications usually run as soon as you turn on your computer and continue to run in the background. Even if you disable uploading, many P2P programs may reset preferences to resume uploading.
  • The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and other content owners use the same P2P software to catch file sharers sharing their protected content with others. Content owners specifically target illegal file sharing on university networks. 

Use of the Guide

This guide is designed to provide basic, general information about copyright, and does not constitute legal advice. The links to third party sites in this guide are provided for your convenience. Boston College does not take responsibility for the content of these other sites. If you have a question about a specific copyright issue not addressed by this guide, the Libraries encourage you to seek further advice.

If you have questions about this guide or a basic copyright issue, contact, or the subject liaison for your department.

If you have a question about the University’s policies regarding copyright, please contact the Office of Technology Transfer and Licensing at 2-1682. If you have a question that requires the advice of an attorney, please contact the Office of the General Counsel at 2-0960.