File Sharing

FAQ - File Sharing

File Sharing

Are there risks to running P2P software on my computer?

Yes, you not only put your computer at risk by running P2P software, you put the entire College of Western Idaho network at risk. P2P software is designed to maintain an open door between your computer, the Internet and anyone who wants access to the files you have available to share. You make your computer vulnerable to viruses, and you provide criminals with an opportunity to use your computer to attack other machines on the network.

Are P2P networks illegal?

Sharing work or media through a peer-to-peer (P2P) network is legal if you own the copyright, thus you own the right to determine if and how that work is distributed. For example, you can write and produce an original song and make it available for others to download for free through a P2P file sharing program. However, it is illegal for you to download or share copyrighted works without permission from the copyright owner.

What is P2P software?

Peer-to-peer (P2P) software allows “peers” (individual computer systems) to connect to each other over  the internet to share files. Examples of mainstream P2P software programs include BitTorrent, Limewire, Ares and AresWarez, Kazaa, Azureus, DC++ and Morpheus.

What is copyright infringement?

Copyright infringement occurs when you download or share copyrighted materials —including music, movies, games, and software —from the Internet without consent from the author.

What is file sharing?

File sharing is when you share (download or upload) electronic data files over a network connection, whether the network is secure or unsecure, public or private. File sharing is not illegal if you have permission from the copyright owner to share the files. It is illegal if you share copyrighted materials without permission from the copyright owner.

What is an online service provider?

An online service provider (OSP) is an entity which offers the transmission, routing, or providing of connections for digital online communications. In simple terms, an OSP is a provider of online services or network access. College of Western Idaho is considered an OSP.

What is the RIAA?

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade association of the U.S. recording industry (or its member record companies). The RIAA serves to foster a business and legal climate for its members through protection of intellectual property rights and the First Amendment rights of artists as well as through monitoring and reviewing state and federal laws, regulations and policies.

What is the MPAA?

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is a trade association of the American motion picture, home video and television industries. The MPAA serves as an advocate for strong protection of the creative works produced and distributed by the industry and fights copyright theft around the world.

What is the Electronic Technology Usage Policy?

The Electronic Technology Usage Policy identifies the standards of use that all users (Faculty, Staff, Students and Guests) must agree to before using the shared computing resources of College of Western Idaho.

What are the penalties if CWI doesn’t comply with the DMCA and HEOA?


Noncompliance with the DMCA could cause the institution to lose its protection under the DMCA Safe Harbor provision for internet service providers and subject the college to significant monetary fines and potential legal action.


Because the reporting and disclosure requirements of the HEOA are linked to an institution’s participation in the Title IV federal student financial aid programs, the Secretary of Education is authorized to take administrative action, including the imposition of fines, against institutions that do not comply. The most severe penalty the Department of Education could impose for failure to comply, however, is a limitation or termination of the institution’s participation in the Title IV financial aid programs.

What is CWI required to do under the DMCA and HEOA?

Under the DMCA all Internet Service Providers aka Online Service Providers are required to:

  1. Register a designated agent with the U.S. Copyright Office to receive notification of claims of copyright infringement.
  2. Promptly respond to any properly formatted notification of claim of copyright infringement also known as a DMCA takedown notice.
  3. Develop and maintain procedures for handling complaints of copyright infringement that occur on CWI’s network. The procedures must include:
    1. A procedure for terminating accounts of repeat infringers
    2. A procedure to accommodate and not interfere with standard measures used by copyright owners to identify and protect their works.
  4. Post the procedures on the college’s website
  5. Undertake an educational program to ensure that the campus community understands copyright law and promotes compliance with it.

For more information on the DMCA as it pertains to Colleges and Universities please refer to the Educause DMCA FAQ located here:

Under the HEOA All colleges and universities in the United States are required to develop a plan to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by the users of its network without unduly interfering with the educational and research use of the network. The plan must include the following:

  1. The use of 1 or more technology-based deterrents
  2. An educational component regarding appropriate and inappropriate use of copyrighted materials
  3. A description of the institution’s procedures for handling copyright infringement; and
  4. A required periodic review of the plan.

For more information on the HEOA as it pertains to Colleges and Universities please refer to the Educause HEOA Role Models web page located here:

How do I obtain this type of content legally?

EduCause has a list of websites available that will let you know legal sources to obtain copyrighted content online. You can visit their website and view the list here:

I had no idea that I was downloading or sharing copyrighted content. How do I determine if I have a P2P application installed on my computer and how do I remove or restrict it?

In order to protect yourself from copyright violations, we recommend that you remove all P2P software from your computer. This will eliminate the possibility of having any copyrighted material, which you own, being distributed to the public Internet. To remove any software on a Windows based machine, you should open your Control Panel and choose "Add Remove Programs" or on Vista/Windows 7 "Programs and Features" and select each software title that you want to uninstall. Usually a simple Google search will let you know if the title is related to P2P software or not. If you need assistance or have a question about the titles that you see, please contact the IT helpdesk at 208-562-3444.

Many users choose to configure their P2P software for downloading files, but they disable the feature to allow their files to be uploaded to the public. Many of the popular P2P applications have options that allow you to disable the uploading of files. If you choose to turn off the uploading of files in your P2P software please consult the help file specific to your application for directions.