File-sharing on Campus
Posted by Dan Hoisington on 07 July 2009 01:41 PM
File-sharing is a hot topic on college campuses; it has an effect on the campus network, and legal implications as well. Here's what you need to know about filesharing programs, the law, and using Augsburg's network.
How do file-sharing programs work?
Most file-sharing programs are "peer-to-peer" programs. This means that rather than having one central repository for all the files available for download, the program keeps track of what files all of its users have. When you download a file using a peer-to-peer program, you're not getting that file from a central server - you're getting it from someone like you who also has that program installed on their computer. Everyone using the program shares their files with everyone else; thus the term "file-sharing".
How can I tell if my computer is distributing files?
Most file-sharing programs have a configuration panel where you can designate how many people can get files from you at once (your upload capacity) and which directories are shared. If your upload capacity is greater than 0, and if any directories are shared, then other people can download files from your computer. If you aren't sure where to find these preferences, check the Help feature or the online user manual for the program you are using.
How do I stop my computer from distributing files?
The exact configuration depends on which file-sharing program you are using. Consult the Help feature or the online user manual for your program. To be absolutely sure that you're not distributing files, you can always uninstall your file-sharing program.
What is the DMCA?
DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The DMCA was signed into law in 1998, and contains regulations relating to several areas of copyright law. The regulation that most directly affects filesharing on campus states that an internet service provider (ISP) may be held liable for activities (that infringe copyrights) on its network if it does not take action to block access to infringing material when notified.
What does it mean if the IT department receives a "copyright complaint"?
Industry groups like the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) sometimes send notices to internet service providers informing them that someone on their network is allowing others to download copyrighted files from them - a violation of copyright law. Because Augsburg College is an ISP for people using the campus network, we sometimes receive such notices. When we receive these notices we have a procedure in place to respond to them. You can read more about our procedure by clicking this link - http://go.augsburg.edu/illegalshare.
How does the entertainment industry find out who is downloading their songs, movies, or other digital content?
Absolutely! An organization named Educause has compiled a list of places and services where you can legally purchase and/or download the content you want to watch and listen to. Go to Educause Legal Sources for that list.
Last Modified: 11/26/2014