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A Message from Office of Information Security

The Record Industry Association of America (RIAA), a trade association of recording companies holding music copyrights, and The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) are aggressively initiating legal actions against individuals engaged in illegal peer-to-peer (P2P) music and video file sharing.   In compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), UTB/TSC will respond quickly when it receives a notice (from RIAA or MPAA), regarding copyright infringements occurring from a computer connected to the university network.

The RIAA and the MPAA and other copyright holders use automated methods to identify infringements, and even small amounts of sharing are tracked to a student's IP address. If RIAA or MPAA suspects copyright infringement they will – Send a warning email about the violation. The violation can be either through alleged illegal downloading or allowing legally purchased songs on the computer to be shared with others illegally through a file-sharing programs (such as: LimeWire, KaZaA, Blubster, Grokster, BitTorrent, Gnutella, iMesh,CuteMX, Scour, FreeNetfile).  Students should not ignore this e-mail. Do follow all directions listed on the e-mail as soon as possible. Federal statute, titles 17 and 18 of the U.S. Code, provide criminal penalties for infringing on copyrighted material. In the worst case infringements can be punishable by up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Repeat offenders can be imprisoned for up to 10 years. Violators can also be held civilly liable for actual damages, lost profits, or statutory damages up to $150,000 per infringement, as attorney's fees and costs. The university cannot protect students from a copyright complaint. The university may also be required by law to disclose information about students to a complainant for use in pursuing legal action against students. The penalties for violation of copyright law can range from university sanctions to civil and criminal prosecution.

In addition to the risk of costly civil lawsuit, students who engage in the unauthorized downloading or distribution of copyrighted materials are acting in violation of the University's Computer Resources Use Policy and the Student Discipline Code. Students will be referred to the Student Judicial Student Judicial Affairs office for adjudication of the complaint.  If found in violation of the UTB/TSC Computer Resources Use Policy, the student will face disciplinary action, and the University may also terminate computer privileges for repeat offenders.

Information Security is also at risk when using programs such as LimeWire, KaZaA, Blubster, Grokster, BitTorrent, Gnutella, iMesh,CuteMX, Scour, FreeNetfile, or any other music or movie file-sharing software on the computer. Such programs open the door to liability and/or malware software installation without student knowledge. While file-sharing software may itself be lawful, there is usually a copyright on the music, video, or other files being shared. The file sharing is a violation of copyright law unless the copyright owner gives explicit written permission. Also, while there has been some discussion in the media, the RIAA has assured us that if students have legally purchased a song and then ripped it onto the computer or MP3 player; they are not interested in pursuing students for this action. RIAA will target only those that do this step and then make it available to others through the computer using file sharing software.

Viruses, Worms and Trojans are regularly distributed using P2P applications. Some recent viruses that have been spread using P2P networks include Swen, Fizzer, Lirva, and even Mydoom. The use of P2P applications aids in the rapid spread of these harmful programs.  Some of the P2P programs themselves also contain "Spyware". This allows the author of the program, and other network users, to see what a student is doing, where the student is going on the Internet, and even to use the computer's resources without student knowledge.

Since the computers running the P2P programs are usually connected to a network, they can be used to spread Malware, share private documents, or use the computer as a file server for storing and later download of files by other users.  Some P2P programs will share everything on the computer with anyone by default.  Much of the P2P activity is automatic, and its use is unmonitored. Computers running this software will be busy exchanging files whenever the machine is turned on.

Students are not protected from financial penalty just because they received material at no cost or are distributing material with no charge. Student’s only protection is to not possess or distribute any unlicensed copyrighted material. There are many Web sites that provide legal online music, movies, and other content. There are numerous legal sources for online music, movies, software and other intellectual property.  Some of these are: Audio Lunchbox, BuyMusic@BuyMusic.com, emusic, iTunes, Rhapsody, MINDAWN. Major labels, indie labels and studios, solo artists, movie and TV studios, and many others distribute on the Web.

UTB/TSC currently blocks the majority of the P2P programs from use within the university network. This is done to help protect students from legal actions with regards to DMCA violations and infection of university computers with malware.

For comments and questions, please contact the Webmaster.