Skip to McMaster Navigation Skip to Site Navigation Skip to main content
McMaster logo

Office of the AVP & CTO


Copyright and P2P

Copyright is the means by which a person or a business makes a living from creating original work.

It gives the copyright holder the right to be credited for the work, to determine who may adapt the work to other forms, who may perform the work, and who may financially benefit from it.

To download or share music or movies without the prior consent of the copyright owner, is an infringement of the Canadian Copyright Act and is an offense that may result in both criminal and civil action being brought against the offender by the copyright owner.

The Copyright Act states that:

“It is an infringement of copyright for any person to do, without the consent of the owner of the copyright, anything that by this Act only the owner of the copyright has the right to do.”

Criminal penalties are fines to a maximum of $25,000 per count of copyright infringement and/or up to 6 months imprisonment, or both for summary convictions. For a conviction on indictment which is a much more serious infringement, fines up to a maximum of $1 million per count and/or up to 5 years imprisonment may be imposed.

Offenders can also be sued by the copyright owner in civil court for damages including statutory damages (a preset range that doesn’t require proof of loss), punitive damages, payment of court costs and pre and post judgment interest. The statutory range for damages can be no less than $500 or more than $20,000 per count.

University Policy…

“RESPECT for the intellectual work of others has traditionally been essential to the mission of McMaster University. As members of the academic community, we value the free exchange of ideas. Just as we do not tolerate plagiarism, we do not condone the unauthorized copying of software, including programs, applications, databases and code. UNAUTHORIZED copying, downloading, and/or re-distribution of copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright owner are illegal and are in violation of this policy, and may be subject to disciplinary action and/or criminal penalties.”

MacOnline Policy…

“You may not directly or indirectly use your MacOnline connection:

To upload, post, transmit, reproduce, or distribute in any way, information, music, software or other material obtained through Service which is protected by copyright, or other proprietary right, or derivative works with respect thereto, without obtaining permission of the copyright owner or rightholder…”

For more information on the Canada Copyright Act:

Balanced Copyright –

Copyright Act –

Copyright Enforcement –