Peer to Peer File Sharing Policy
Downloading or sharing music, videos, or any other copyrighted media without legally purchasing it or without the owner’s permission is a violation of copyright law and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) and is subject to legal action including substantial fines and criminal prosecution. Using Landmark’s network or Internet services to download or share media illegally is also a violation of College policies, including the Computer and Network Acceptable Use Policy, and is subject to disciplinary action as outlined in the student and employee handbooks.
It is a violation of this policy to distribute, download, upload, stream, scan, store, or share any material including software, data, music, videos, games, or any other electronic file when:
- the file is copyrighted, and distribution to the user has not been authorized by the copyright owner or
- the intended use is specified as illegal by any federal or state law or statute
Peer-to-peer (P2P) software, including BitTorrent, Limewire, Grokster, KAZaA, iMesh, Morpheus, and other programs are frequently used to access and download media illegally from other computers and to distribute them to others via the Internet. While using P2P software is not illegal per se, their use does consume significant Internet bandwidth on the College’s network and inhibits access to others for legitimate academic, administrative, or other purposes. Many of these P2P programs also contain hidden “spyware” or “adware” applications that allow marketers to track online behavior and deliver targeted advertising, as well as degrade computer performance and functionality. Some shared media files may also have viruses, worms, or trojan horses attached that may lead to loss of data, identity theft, and other potential liabilities. The College therefore strongly discourages the use of any P2P software.
Users also need to be aware that they are not entirely anonymous on the Internet and that copyright owners can often detect the origin of illegal downloading or sharing of media by identifying a computer’s individual Internet address. In addition, the College is legally obligated to respond to legitimate notification of copyright violation from copyright owners.
At a minimum, Information Technology Services (ITS) summarizes the College’s Peer to Peer File Sharing Policy to new students at technology orientation and distributes this policy to all students at the beginning of each semester via the College’s digest mass mailing system. ITS also notifies the entire community via the digest system when a DMCA notice has been received with the key points of this policy, including the potential consequences of illegal peer to peer file sharing.
The Peer to Peer File Sharing policy, as well as the College’s Computer and Network Acceptable Use Policy and Copyright Policy are also available on the College’s web site.
ITS uses a traffic shaper appliance on the College’s network to severely restrict peer to peer protocols as a group and to block anonymous proxies intended to circumvent detection.
When peer to peer protocols are detected in use on the College’s network, the protocol service is automatically interrupted and the user is directed to a web page highlighting key points of the College’s policy including potential consequences of illegal peer to peer file sharing. Repeated infractions may result in additional consequences including termination of network access.
ITS periodically evaluates and updates its educational program and technology-based deterrents. Evaluation includes bandwidth utilization, recidivism rates, number of DMCA notices, and other criteria to determine effectiveness of these deterrents.
In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be legally 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.
Users on campus who engage in peer to peer file sharing, copyright infringement, or other prohibited activities are also subject to disciplinary action in accordance with College policies.
ITS also complies with DMCA notices when identifiable information is provided, as well as responding to legal subpoena requests.
Landmark College does support the purchase and downloading of media from legal sources within the constraints of the College’s bandwidth capacity and policies.