Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University

Peer-to-Peer File Sharing on University Networks

File sharing software that copies and distributes songs, videos, games and software without permission of the owner can create both criminal and civil liability for the user of the computer performing those functions. Content owners, such as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and Home Box Office (HBO), use technological means to track file sharing of their intellectual property on the Internet. Recently, content owners have also pursued more aggressive legal strategies such as copyright infringement cases in federal court, as is their right under the law.

Providing or obtaining copyrighted material, e.g., music, movies, videos, or text, without permission from the rightful owner violates the United States Copyright Act and several University policies. While it is true that a number of artists have allowed their creative works to be freely copied, those artists remain the exception. You should assume that all works are copyright-protected except those that explicitly state otherwise. As an individual, you should also be aware that you face liability for damages of up to $30,000 per infringement under the U.S. Copyright Act.

The use of file sharing programs has significant practical implications as well. File sharing is bandwidth-intensive and thus can significantly interfere with all users’ ability to perform University-related work. In addition, the files available through file sharing are often infected with computer viruses.

The University has implemented technology that monitors for the unlawful use of file sharing software. If an artist, author, publisher, or law enforcement agency notifies the University that you are violating copyright laws then the University will investigate the complaint. If appropriate, action will be taken against you in accordance with University policy. In some cases, violations of University policy could result in suspending your network access privileges and/or criminal prosecution under state and federal statutes. 

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