Copyright Infringement Complaint

If you have a program, application or service on your computer that allows you to get any song, video, game or other entertainment file that you want for free even though you could buy it in the store or online, you are at risk of violating copyright and being discovered and prosecuted.

That program is probably a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) filesharing program and may have a name like BitTorrent, LimeWire, Shareaza, Kazaa, iMesh, Bearshare, eMule, KCeasy, Ares Galaxy, Soulseek, WinMX, Piolet, Gnutella, Overnet, Azureus, Vuze, FrostWire, uTorrent, Morpheus, ANts, or Acquisition and others.

When you use a P2P program to get an entertainment file, you are connecting to the same P2P program of someone like you who has already obtained the file.  Then your P2P program silently and automatically becomes a provider of that file to others on the Internet, without telling you who is getting the file from your computer. That may violate copyright and may be detected by copyright watchdogs.

Copyright owners use those same P2P programs to see who is sharing the entertainment files that they want to protect.  When they find their file being offered on your computer, they will send a complaint to USU demanding its removal.  USU must comply with that request to avoid legal action against the university.

First Infringement:  We will disable network access for the computer identified in the infringement notice and charge you $25 to restore network access.

Second Infringements:  If you are identified in a second complaint after responding to the first complaint, the fee increases to $50 and, for students, the issue will be referred to the Student Conduct Coordinator (SCC) in the Office of Student Services.  Your network access will be restored after payment of the fee and approval from the SCC.

Third Infringements: If you are identified in a third complaint after responding to the second complaint, the fee increases to $100, your access will be disabled for ALL devices registered in your name and, for students, the issue will be referred to the SCC. Your network access will be restored after payment of the fee and approval from the SCC.

The copyright owner might also send USU an "early settlement notice" for USU to forward to you.  The settlement notice will list the protected files that they found on your computer (via your P2P program) and tell you how much they want you to pay them to avoid being sued in Federal Court.  If you don't take their settlement offer (which may be several hundred or several thousand dollars) they may subpoena USU to find out who you are in preparation for suing you.

What can you do to avoid these problems?  The simple answer is: don't use P2P filesharing programs to obtain free copies of entertainment files that are also available for sale.  P2P has legitimate uses: sharing free software and free music from startup bands, for instance.  Even then be careful that your P2P isn't sharing more from your computer than you think.  Even songs that you have paid for and stored on your computer might be shared by a carelessly configured P2P program and that sharing is still a copyright violation.

There are many legal on-line sources of entertainment files which pay royalties to copyright owners by charging modest fees or by selling advertising.

What is P2P?

P2P stands for peer-to-peer file-sharing. It refers to two computers sharing files, often music, video or game files, with each other over the Internet for free.

Have I used a P2P file-sharing program?

Many students use P2P programs without knowing it. Popular P2P programs include BitTorrent, Gnutella, KaZaA, Napster, iMesh, LimeWire, Morpheus, Swapnut, WinMX, AudioGalaxy, Blubster, eDonkey and BearShare.

What are the consequences of P2P file sharing?

When you use a file sharing utility like Limewire, you don’t just receive files, your computer become an automatic provider of files to others on the internet. If these files are under copyright, the sharing is illegal and a violation of the Appropriate Use Agreement you made when you registered your device with the USU network. Violation of that agreement could result in termination of your internet access and an administrative fee to regain access. We aren’t the bad guys, we are required by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to take action when a copyright owner files a complaint of infringement of copyright.

What are risks of P2P file sharing?

• Unintentional sharing of private information.

• Your P2P program might actually offer your homework or email to others.

• Malware—viruses, trojans, and worms—can be hidden in files that look like media files.

• Some P2P variants can actually be harmful spyware.

• Once installed, some P2P programs are very hard to disable or remove without rebuilding your computer.