File Sharing Policy

Note on Illegal Sharing of Copyrighted Materials

The University has received a number of complaints from representatives of the motion picture, music recording, and software industries. These tend to focus on the use of KaZaA, Gnutella, Morpheus, and similar peer-to-peer file sharing programs used to download music and other media. Users may not realize that this software can turn your personal computer into a distribution server even if that is not your intent. Files on your network-connected PC may then be illegally shared with others across the world who are connected to the Internet. Though trading of copyrighted music, movies, games and software over the Web has become commonplace, it is often not legal to do so. While it is true that some artists have allowed their creative works to be freely copied, those artists remain very much the exception. It is good practice for you to assume that all works are copyright-protected unless explicitly stated otherwise. Offering or downloading copyrighted material in violation of U.S. copyright law may be punishable with civil and/or criminal penalties including prison time and fines. If not used for legitimate purposes, it is important that the file sharing capability of computers be disabled. If you desire assistance in removing software from your computer, you may contact the ITS Help Desk at 208-885-2725 (885-APAL) or e-mail helpdesk@uidaho.edu.

Industry representatives are becoming more aggressive in monitoring the Web to discover those involved in illegal file sharing. They use automated scanning software to identify infringements (down to specific computers). In some cases, violations could result in civil and/or criminal prosecution under state and federal statutes. Action taken to remedy a reported violation does not preclude the copyright holder from seeking civil and/or criminal prosecution. Violators may still be subject to prosecution under the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). In addition, violators may be subject to personal sanctions under University policy, including suspension of network computing access privileges. Under U.S. copyright law, individuals could be liable for damages from $750 to $150,000 for each song offered illegally on a person's computer. On April 4, 2003, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) filed suit against four students at three universities for copyright infringement. Settlements ranged from $12,000 to $17,000. Recently, RIAA filed nearly three hundred copyright infringement lawsuits. In short, it is possible for RIAA and others to identify and prosecute violators, even casual users of file-sharing software, at the University of Idaho.

If you have questions about these issues, you may contact ITS director, Harvey Hughett, at hughett@uidaho.edu