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File Sharing Issues

Student Guide for Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Issues

There are many issues concerning the file sharing of copyright protected materials on computer systems attached to university information technology resources. Included below are some answers to frequently asked questions:

1) What is legal for downloading? Is it ok to use KaZaa or similar programs to obtain songs?

Answer: It is legal to download works that are in the public domain or for which the person has permission to download. Works that are in the public domain are works that are not copyright protected or for which the copyright has expired. Just because there is no copyright notice, does not mean that the work isn't copyright protected. In fact, it is safe to say that almost every recording and video, available on the Internet, is copyright protected.

To get permission to download a work not in the public domain, the student would need to get permission from the owner of the copyright or pay the fee being charged by a site that can grant permission to download. Occasionally, there might be a statement saying that it is acceptable to download and reproduce a work without permission. Services exist, such as iTunes, Musicmatch, and Pressplay, that provide permission to download a work based on a signed agreement or a service charge.

2) What is not legal?

Answer: All songs, recordings, movies, books, articles, paintings, photographs, and similar works, that are copyrighted, not in the public domain, and for which the person does not have permission to download.

3) How do you find people breaking the rules?

Answer: The RIAA, MPAA, or companies representing the entertainment industry contact us with Internet address information, filenames, and times. If there is an unusually high consumption of bandwidth, the University may investigate and discover an illegal use of information technology resources.

4) What happens to students who get caught?

Answer: The following is the current procedure for handling copyright issues:

On the first offense the Office of Information Technology (OIT) contacts the student to do three things:

1. Explain why the behavior is illegal and against University policy.

2. Clean the illegal material from the student's computer system.

3. Advise the student not to do it again.

On the second offense, the student's network connection is disabled and the student is required to take the system to the OIT Service Center in Aconda Court to demonstrate that the material is no longer on their system.

On a third offense, the network connection is disabled and the incident is referred to Student Judicial Affairs. Judicial Affairs may impose sanctions in addition to those imposed by OIT. The student is required to take the system to the OIT Service Center in Aconda Court to allow the material to be removed from their system.

5) If students are going to use downloading tools, are there any that are preferable and do not clog up the network as much?

Answer: There are no "streamlined" file sharing services available. File sharing simply generates a lot of traffic on the network no matter what new service is used. The ResNet Network (student dorm network) Internet access stays at 100 percent capacity at all times that the dorms are occupied. Peer-to-peer file sharing is a majority of that traffic. If a student wants to use peer-to-peer file transfer for legitimate means then he/she should turn the service off when it is not in use.