Downloading or distributing copyrighted materials such as documents, movies, music, etc. without the permission of the rightful owner is considered copyright infringement and is illegal under federal copyright law. The information found in this document has been developed to help students and other college personnel understand copyright laws and policies as they relate to digital materials at your college. Our goal is to inform all students and personnel of the college’s commitment to protecting lawful copyrights and ways you can protect yourself from being involved unwittingly in illegal activities. Under no circumstances should the college’s network connections be used to violate copyright laws. Use of your colleges’ network resources to commit acts of copyright infringement may be subject to prosecution and potential disciplinary actions.
Individuals who download music, movies, computer games, or software applications in violation of its copyright, are not only guilty of excessive bandwidth usage, they are also guilty of stealing. Sharing of these illegally downloaded materials also places others in jeopardy. Industry lawyers are beginning to target individuals who are in violation. Individuals who infringe may be liable to huge fines and possible jail time.
Safety Tips Regarding File Sharing
Aside from copyright considerations, there are security aspects you might want to consider before opening up your computer for file sharing.
Peer-to-peer file sharing applications like KaZaA, iMesh, and Gnutella can render the private contents of your computer - your confidential data files, saved emails, financial records, etc. - vulnerable to exploitation. For this reason, we strongly recommended against installing and using these applications. If you have a peer-to-peer file sharing program already installed, we recommend you remove it. At the very least, disable your peer-to-peer software's uploading capability. To find out how, visit http://security.uchicago.edu/guidelines/peer-to-peer/.
Operating System-based file sharing (windows, mac, linux)
Unless it's absolutely essential that other people be able to access non-copyrighted materials on your computer, we urge you to disable the general file sharing capabilities of your operating system. Computers that have file sharing turned on are tempting targets for hackers, who often exploit that feature to take over victims' machines. Need help disabling file sharing on your computer? Check out the online Help features of your system or visit the web site of the operating system vendor (Microsoft, Apple, etc.) for more information.
What is the College Doing to Combat Illegal File Sharing?
Your college has implemented technology that can detect P2P software running on the campus network. Additionally, the college has implemented technology that “throttles” or slows down, traffic that comes from common P2P applications.
Alternatives for Downloading Music and Movies
As evidenced by recent lawsuits, illegal downloading of music and movies can be extremely costly. Check out these links to some legal alternatives for downloading music/video.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act
WIPO Copyright Treaty
Unites States Copyright Office
Recording Industry Association of America
Motion Picture Association of America