Peer-to-peer (P2P) applications such as Napster, Gnutella, iMesh, Audiogalaxy Satellite, and KaZaA, make it easy for users to exchange files with each other over the Internet. While these programs are a good way of sharing information, they are not entirely harmless and can cause problems for personal computer systems as well as for the University network.
This document provides the information users may need to avoid degrading the performance of the University’s network, to avoid unknowingly sharing personal data, to prevent inadvertently violating Federal Copyright Law, or to prevent exposing personal computer equipment to malicious code or unacceptable use when using peer-to-peer applications.
Most P2P applications will usually be configured so other users can access your hard drive and share your files all of the time. This constant file transfer can degrade your computer’s performance and generate heavy traffic loads on the University network, making overall network performance poor. The network is a shared resource and we all must use it responsibly. Network traffic capacity (referred to as “bandwidth”) is a limited and expensive resource that we must all consume responsibly.
UTPB network bandwidth consumption is monitored. If your usage could possibly impact the overall performance of the network, your computer may be blocked until the situation can be discussed and resolved.
Students living in University housing are limited in the amount of bandwidth they can use. Having P2P applications running all the time can quickly use up your bandwidth quota.
Before you install any program on your computer, especially a P2P application, read that program’s documentation and disable, if possible, file-sharing access.
File-sharing applications make it easy for you to share music, videos, movies, software, text and other files. However, unless you have the explicit permission of the copyright owner to possess or distribute the material, you may be in violation of federal copyright law. It is best to assume that all material is copyrighted.
Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.
Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. 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. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504 & 505.
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.
The University cannot protect you from a copyright complaint. You are not insulated from legal action because of your status as a student or because you use University network resources. In fact, the University may be legally required to assist a complainant in pursuing action against you. The penalties can range from University sanctions to civil and criminal prosecution. Individual copyright owners and the entertainment industry are quite active in pursuing legal actions. You are not protected just because you received material at no cost or are distributing material with no charge. Your only protection is to not possess or distribute any unlicensed copyrighted material.
If you are running a file-sharing application, make sure you know which files and data the program can access and provide to others. You may be inadvertently sharing personal information such as e-mail messages and credit card information.
Virus writers are increasingly targeting file-sharing applications. If malicious code infects your computer, it can spread to millions of computers on the Internet. It is essential that you keep your anti-virus program up to date and install programs acquired only from reputable sources.
Some file-sharing applications also access your computer to provide a computational or storage resource for another organization’s personal use. This may not be an acceptable use of state-owned resources such as the UTPB network.
University Policy and Assistance
In summary, please remember that file-sharing programs are not necessarily harmless and in using them you may inadvertently consume excessive network bandwidth, violate copyright law, inadvertently share confidential information or make your computer unsecured. Disproportionate bandwidth usage and copyright infringement are violations of the University’s rules for acceptable use of information technology.
Students should be aware that university networks and computers connected to the university networks are monitored by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and other copyright protection agencies. If you install peer-to-peer file sharing software on your computer you “open” your computer to monitoring by these agencies. If the university receives a notice from one of these agencies alleging a copyright violation associated with your computer, your network connectivity will be limited to local resources. This limitation will continue until you have discussed the situation with the UTPB Dean of Students.
Legal Sources Of Music & Video
For information related to legal sources of on-line music and videos visit