Policy on Unauthorized Electronic Distribution of Copyrighted Materials
The university prohibits students from using its computer systems and networks to violate copyright law. Copyright owners have the right to control, within certain limits, how their works are published, distributed, and sold, and the right to be paid for the use of a work. Unless a student is the copyright holder or has express permission to share someone else's copyrighted works, the distribution of copyrighted works to the Internet to share via a peer-to-peer network is almost certainly violating another person's copyrights.
Peer-to-peer file sharing occurs when individuals store files on their computers and enable their computers as servers so that others may download the files. The university strictly forbids peer-to-peer file sharing applications or any application used to violate copyrights or any federal or state law. Violations include copying or distributing copyrighted media such as songs, movies, software, video games, text and pictures, without authorization from the copyright owner.
The university's networks and computers may only be used for education-related objectives of the university. Please see the university's Computer Use Policy for more information. University networks and computers may not be used to operate file sharing programs, including peer-to-peer file sharing applications for the illegal downloading of copyrighted materials.
Use of file sharing applications can harm student users and the university. A student who runs a file sharing application may be inadvertently sharing personal information, such as e-mail messages and credit card information. In addition, virus writers often target file sharing applications. Finally, file sharing programs may disrupt Internet access and performance of programs used for academic work on university networks.
There are many legal alternatives for obtaining music and video on the Internet. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) provides students with a list of legal alternatives for listening to or downloading music (http://www.riaa.com/toolsforparents.php?content_selector=legal-music-services). The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) also maintains a growing list of legal alternatives to accessing videos (http://www.mpaa.org/contentprotection/get-movies-tv-shows). The Information Technology Department will review these lists quarterly and make the results available to students on the university website.
All use of university networks and computers, including e-mail accounts, may be monitored by the university at any time without notice to identify and mitigate usage in violation of federal copyright laws. Computers found to be engaging in peer-to-peer activity on university networks will be automatically blocked from accessing the network for 30 minutes.
Violation of this policy may result in an immediate suspension or loss on computer or network privileges at the university and will also subject a student to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension and expulsion from the university. If appropriate, violations may also be reported to local or federal law enforcement agencies for prosecution.
Unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject copyright infringers to civil and criminal liabilities. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense. For more information, please see the website of the U.S. Copyright Office at www.copyright.gov, especially the FAQ's at www.copyright.gov/help/faq.