Campus Technology


Holloway Hall

File sharing and Copyright Protection

What is illegal file sharing?

In recent years there has been quite a bit about illegal downloading or sharing of music and videos. If you are using software like Limewire, KaZaA, or BitTorrent you are most likely downloading copyrighted material illegally. This is both a violation of university copyright policy, the university computer acceptable use policy and it could leave you open to prosecution or a lawsuit. SU makes has technology in place to make P2P file sharing difficult,  but not impossible. Some file sharing, like information in the public domain, most podcasts, personally developed MP3 or video files.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) software is not illegal. Using the products to download any copyrighted material without the expressed permission of the owner is illegal.

How can I get caught?

The Recording Industry Association (RIAA) of America and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) began scanning for audio and video traffic on the internet in 2003. If your computer is detected "serving" illegal audio or video the RIAA and MPAA can request that the university assist them in identifying the computer used to download or upload the questionable content. The university is obligated to do so.

How does SU get notified and what happens?

SU receives two different types of notices, "take down" and "preservation". In an average month, SU receives about 5-10 notices a month. A take down notice is a communication that asks the university to notify an individual to stop sharing copyrighted materials. Information Technology forwards these notices to the individuals whose computers are involved and asks them to discontinue the infringing activity. Most people comply promptly.

A preservation notice alerts the university to a forthcoming subpoena that may be served. The subpoena asks the university to provide identifying information about a user of our network who has infringed copyrighted materials. Sometimes, following the preservation notice and prior to the subpoena, an early settlement letter is sent to the university from the copyright holder asking that it be forwarded to the individual infringing on the copyright. This allows the individual to work with the copyright holder to resolve the dispute before going through the legal system. In some cases settlements have been as much as $3000.

Downloading music or video illegally can carry fines from $750 to $150,000 per song or film. In one recent case, a student was fine over $650,000 for downloading 30 songs.

Will the university do anything if I am caught?

Possibly. Violating copyright law is a serious offense. If you use a university computer,  or even your own computer on campus, you have violated the university computer acceptable use policy. This will be referred to the Vice President of student affairs.

How can I obtain digital music and movie files legally?

Some music, movies and television shows can be legally obtained through online subscription services or from sites officially permitted by the copyright holders to offer certain downloads. Some of the “pay for play" services from which these files can be legally obtained are listed below.



For more information visit the following sources:

University Copyright Policy
Digital Millennium Copyright Act
Recording Industry Association of America
Motion Picture Association of America