Peer to Peer (P2P) file sharing and what you need to know
This website is designed to give all members of the college community (Faculty, Staff and Students) the information necessary to make informed decisions when using P2P file sharing applications (see below). This website will also give you details on CWI’s plan to combat illegal file sharing on campus.
P2P file sharing allows you to share files with anyone, anywhere in the world running the same file sharing application. P2P file sharing is a popular way for Internet users to exchange music, movies, photos, video games, documents, etc.
P2P file sharing has become enormously popular on college campuses across the country. Millions of people use P2P applications such as BitTorrent, Limewire, eDonkey, etc. to download music and movies that they think are “Free”.
What you may not know is that sharing copyrighted works through P2P file sharing applications is in violation of federal copyright law. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) actively monitor the internet looking for copyright violators. If you are found to be in violation of copyright laws you can be subject to significant monetary fines as well as jail time. Lack of knowledge about the copyright laws will not excuse you from the legal & civil consequences of violating those laws. For more information on the laws governing file sharing on college campuses please see: Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA).
What you also may not know is that P2P file sharing can also endanger CWI’s ability to award financial aid. HEOA deals with the rules and regulations that all colleges and universities must follow in order to be able to award financial aid. The HEOA has a provision about P2P file sharing that requires all colleges and universities to implement a plan to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted works by users of our campus computer network.
P2P file sharing can also expose you and your computer to unintended risks. Computer hackers know that the files being shared on P2P networks are not being validated, so it is easier to get you to download a virus or spyware onto your computer by simply naming the file after a popular music or movie title. Many P2P applications scan your entire hard drive for files to share and if you are not careful your entire hard drive, including any sensitive documents, could be shared out to the world (or Internet at large.) Think about the files on your PC right now. Are you storing any files with your social security number, bank account information or passwords? If so you could become the victim of identity theft.
CWI recognizes that P2P file sharing technology can be and is used for legitimate academic purposes such as downloading open source software, computer device drivers, etc. CWI does not block all P2P traffic. P2P traffic is monitored and checked for content. Legal downloads are allowed but illegal downloading will be tracked and points awarded toward sanctions that include a warning, loss of internet privileges and finally a meeting with Student Services or HR.
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