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What You Need to Know
about Peer-to-Peer (P2P) File Sharing
on the University Network

Downloading or sharing copyrighted material is against the law; doing it while on the University network (wired, wireless, vpn or modem) is against University policy. In recent years, copyright holders have stepped up legal efforts to combat it, and unfortunately, they have targeted college students with increased numbers of DMCA Copyright Infringment notices. You should be aware of the risks you take if you choose to participate in this activity.

Three things to know:

How do I get a Copyright Infringement Notice?

The University does not monitor network traffic for content. However, the recording (RIAA) and motion picture (MPAA) industries do monitor networks for illegal sharing of their copyrighted materials via peer-to-peer (P2P) software.

When the RIAA/MPAA find evidence of this on a computer on our network, they send the University a DMCA "cease and desist" notice, which we in turn pass on to the student. In some cases, they may choose to send a pre-litigation or preservation notice, which can be pre-cursors to further legal action (suing for copyright infringement).

Here's what happens:

  1. A computer on the University network (ResNet, wireless, VPN, modem) is running anonymous P2P software such as Ares or BitTorrent, and shares copyrighted files (music, video, software) without permission.
  2. The copyright holder sends a legal DMCA "cease and desist" notice to the University.
  3. ITSS forwards this DMCA notice to the computer owner in an "ITSS Computer Security Notice" email.
  4. The computer is taken off the network until the student removes the P2P software and any wrongfully obtained copyrighted material.

What music programs are allowed/legal?

Programs like iTunes and Napster - where you pay for downloads - are legal. There are also many legitimate sites for free music and videos listed here: Legal Sources of Online Content

Common Myths and Facts

If I don't download any songs or videos while I'm here, I won't get a Copyright Infringement notice.
Fact: You can get a notice for downloading OR for allowing others to upload content from your computer. If you have P2P software on your computer, you are most likely sharing files anytime your computer is on the network. And one computer you are sharing with may be the RIAA/MPAA.
I turned off file sharing on my P2P program so I don't have to worry.
Fact: You can not REALLY turn off file sharing with most P2P programs. Many install additional spyware that keeps the P2P connection live. The only real solution: uninstall it if you are using the University network.
I won't get caught.
Fact: During the last few years, hundreds of UMD students have received DMCA notices. Additionally, in August, 2007, three UMD students received pre-litigation notices.

Make smart choices while you're here.

If you choose to use the University network,
remove all peer-to-peer file-sharing software from your computer.

Rev: 11.10 sab

© 2017 University of Minnesota Duluth
The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
Last modified on 10/31/11 03:06 PM
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