Information Technology

P2P File Sharing and Copyright Infringement

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing networks use end-user computers for both clients and servers and are commonly used to share electronic media. P2P networks are often used to illegally download and distribute copyrighted material, including music, movies, software and games. P2P networks are also used to distribute malicious software like viruses, worms and spyware. Examples of P2P programs are Limewire, Frostwire, Kazaa Lite, Gnutella, and BitTorrent.

By installing P2P file-sharing software you open your files to millions of other users, even if you didn't mean to! With P2P networks, students who lawfully purchase music and movies online can easily find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

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Illegally Sharing Music and Movies is a Crime!

There are many risks associated with using P2P file sharing networks, including severe criminal and civil penalties from exposure to copyright law infringement. Even sharing movies and music with friends is considered a criminal act.

Criminal penalties for first-time offenders can be as high as 5 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Individuals who illegally reproduce or distribute copyrighted material may face criminal prosecution even if there is no monetary gain or commercial benefit.

Civil penalties have minimum statutory damages of $750 per song or movie. Statutory fines may be assessed without the copyright holder proving actual damages of the copyright infringing activity. Fines for willful cases of infringement can be as high as $150,000 for each copyrighted work.

Students who illegally copy or distribute copyrighted material or use P2P file sharing networks on campus may lose computer and network privileges for up to 30 days, and in some cases privileges may be lost indefinitely.

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Copyright Infringement - Suggestions to Avoid Future Incidents

  • Uninstall any P2P (Peer-To-Peer) software such as KaZaA, Limewire, WinMX or similar applications:
    You may not be aware of it, but when you registered as a P2P software user, you probably agreed to let the network use your computer as a distribution source of music files. In other words, if you’re like most P2P software users, you do more than simply download files. You probably also make files on your hard drive available for others to upload. Not only does this make you a potential illegal distributor, it also means that whenever you’re online, every other network user around the world (and there are tens of millions of them) has the ability to access your hard drive.
  • If you do use P2P software be aware that you can set most of these applications to disable sharing and uploading capability:
    Visit www.musicunited.org and click on TAKE IT OFF. Here you will find instructions on configuring many P2P applications so that they will not share your files. Also, be sure to explore the rest of www.musicunited.org. You will find a wealth of information on downloading and sharing music, laws that protect copyrighted material, links to legal online music services, etc…
  • Find legal sources for online content:
    http://www.educause.edu/legalcontent
  • Educate yourself on file sharing, copyright laws, etc…
    Remember, you are ultimately responsible for ensuring that your computer is not sharing copyrighted material over the internet.
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