File Sharing and Copyright Infringement
MIU wants to protect every student, faculty member and administrator from the pitfalls of unsafe or illegal computer file sharing. When you are networked by way of a person-to-person, file-sharing program (P2P file sharing), you may unknowingly:
- download material that is protected by copyright laws and find yourself mired in legal issues,
- allow others to copy private files — even giving access to entire folders and subfolders you never intended to share,
- download a virus,
- facilitate a security breach, and/or
- download offensive material labeled as something else.
Downloading material protected by copyright laws may result in students, and students’ parents or guardians, being sued. U.S. copyright law protects anything in tangible form, including digitized form. There is a substantial fine and several years in prison for illegal activity on the web. A person caught doing illegal downloads might be allowed to plead guilty and pay a $5000.00 fine to avoid going to court.
The Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Music Publisher’s Association are all quite active in preventing copyright theft of original work. (See www.riaa.com AND www.mpaa.org.) These associations have hired experts who search the web looking for illegal downloading activity. Major record companies have sued individuals at 26 different universities for using P2P networks to illegally distribute copyrighted sound recordings.
When MIU is notified about infringement concerning an IP address on the University network, the Department of Student Life conducts standard policy violation procedures. The student must IMMEDIATELY CEASE AND DESIST from any further file sharing activity in which materials is distributed from the student’s computer for which the student does not have permission or license from the copyright holder.
The student may also face more aggressive legal consequences, such as ‘pre-litigation settlement letters’ on copyright infringement cases in federal court. The violator is offered the opportunity to pay up to several thousand dollars in lieu of going to court.
MIU also routinely monitors connections, and if a particular connection is using more than its share of bandwidth, the University imposes a penalty and slows that connection down. Monitored individuals can also be contacted by Information Services, and referred to the Department of Student Life.