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File Sharing

Introduction

Peer-to-peer (P2P) applications make it easy for users to exchange files with each other over the Internet. While these programs are a good way of sharing information, they are not entirely harmless and can cause problems for personal computer systems as well as for the University network.

This document provides the information users may need to avoid degrading the performance of the University's network, to avoid unknowingly sharing personal data, to prevent inadvertently violating Federal Copyright Law, or to prevent exposing personal computer equipment to malicious code or unacceptable use when using peer-to-peer applications.

Network Capacity

UTPB network bandwidth consumption is monitored. If your usage could possibly impact the overall performance of the network, your computer may be blocked until the situation can be discussed and resolved.

Students living in University housing are limited in the amount of bandwidth they can use. Having P2P applications running all the time can quickly use up your bandwidth quota.

Before you install any program on your computer, especially a P2P application, read that program's documentation and disable, if possible, file-sharing access.

Copyright Issues

File-sharing applications make it easy for you to share music, videos, movies, software, text and other files. However, unless you have the explicit permission of the copyright owner to possess or distribute the material, you may be in violation of federal copyright law. It is best to assume that all material is copyrighted.

Your only protection is to not possess or distribute any unlicensed copyrighted material.

For more information, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at www.copyright.gov, and the FAQs at www.copyright.gov/help/faq.

Privacy

If you are running a file-sharing application, make sure you know which files and data the program can access and provide to others. You may be inadvertently sharing personal information such as e-mail messages and credit card information.

Security

Virus writers are increasingly targeting file-sharing applications. If malicious code infects your computer, it can spread to millions of computers on the Internet. It is essential that you keep your anti-virus program up to date and install programs acquired only from reputable sources.

Some file-sharing applications also access your computer to provide a computational or storage resource for another organization's personal use. This may not be an acceptable use of state-owned resources such as the UTPB network.

University Policy and Assistance

In summary, please remember that file-sharing programs are not necessarily harmless and in using them you may inadvertently consume excessive network bandwidth, violate copyright law, inadvertently share confidential information or make your computer unsecured. Disproportionate bandwidth usage and copyright infringement are violations of the University's rules for acceptable use of information technology and may subject you to serious disciplinary action.

Legal Sources Of Music & Video

Educause maintains a list of multiple legal sources of online music and videos.

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