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Peer to Peer File Sharing

Download the latest songs free on the internet!

Yes, you can download the latest hot songs, videos and games on the internet just like you can drive 100 mph on the highway. Both are illegal, and both have cops watching for you. Details below.

When you use a file sharing utility like Limewire, Gnutella, Morpheus, KaZaA, or BitTorrent, you don't just receive files. In an "honor among thieves" arrangement you become a provider of files at the same time. The file sharing software registers your participation in a central directory so that other users of the software can also obtain the entertainment files that you have acquired.

Copyright watchdogs from the music, movie and software industries use automated processes with the same software to access the same directories and check for availability of files that they are interested in protecting. When they find that you have one of their files available, they send off a complaint to your Internet Service Provider.

Utah State University is a registered internet service provider in compliance with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act so we are easy to contact. When copyright watchdogs find any of their files on your file-sharing computer in the domain, they send us a specific legal notice and we are required to take action.

You made an appropriate use agreement with USU when you registered your computer's network card address.

Violation of that agreement, as alleged by an official complaint from a copyright watchdog, could result in immediate termination of your internet access and referral of the complaint for University Disciplinary Action as well as fees to recover your network access.

There are many legal on-line sources of entertainment files which charge modest fees. See also the list of Legal Sources of Online Content maintained by EDUCAUSE.

You may also find it useful to disable filesharing on your P2P program so that others (including the watchdogs) cannot see and copy your files. Thanks to the University of Chicago for this information resource.

Why doesn't USU block internet file sharing?

Although file sharing protocols are widely used on the internet to share copyrighted material, the protocols are also useful for the legitimate sharing of original works such as those created by students in the University Reserve Graphics Lab and in other facilities. The file sharing protocol is not illegal, just as the gas pedal in your car is not illegal. But it is possible to do illegal things with both, and both are subject to investigation and legal penalties.

For more infomation and to get answers to your specific questions, contact .

Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.

Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.

Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

For more information, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQ's at

Followup: March 2007 - New RIAA Pre-Notice Policy

letter from RIAA to University Presidents

Background Discussion of Copyright Law and Potential Liability for Students Engaged in P2P File Sharing on University Networks. Nov 2006

pre-settlement instructions

University CIO listserver discussions

RIAA letter to commercial ISPs (not just .edu)

New RIAA education campaign

Letter to All Students from the Cornell University IT Policy Office

Utah State University Information Technology