Missouri State University - West Plains

Copyright/File Sharing

Copyright and File-Sharing Information

What is file-sharing and why is it bad for the network?

File-sharing is the transfer of files over a computer network, usually via a peer-to-peer (P2P) program where files are stored on individuals' computers rather than a central server location. Common P2P programs include Limewire, BitTorrent, uTorrent, eMule, Bearshare, and others. What this means is that people with the above listed programs can share files from their computers and download files on other users' computers.

Problems arise because as long as the program is running, a large number of users can be connected to that computer at one time, all downloading. So even though a single file might be small and of little consequence, the number of people connecting to get that one particular file can be a big detriment on the network and use up a large amount of bandwidth. In addition to that, some programs may route local traffic through a user's computer, even when no files are shared from that computer, compounding the problems listed above.

What legal concerns accompany file-sharing?

While the sharing of files from one computer to another is perfectly legal, the sharing of copyrighted material without the consent of the copyright holder is illegal. This includes most music, movies, and television shows that are played on the radio and television. If the copyright owner or an entity representing them discovers that someone is sharing their material via a P2P program, they are within their rights to pursue legal action against that person, which may include suing the individual for monetary damages. If you are unsure of whether or not you have permission to share a file, we recommend that you err on the side of caution and avoid doing anything potentially illegal.

What does this mean for students using personal computers or Wi-Fi – enabled personal electronic devices (laptops, cell phones, tablets, etc.) while connected to the Missouri State University network?

Should a student sharing copyrighted material be reported and the student's illegal activity be confirmed, the student will be notified of the infraction and asked promptly to rectify the situation. A record will be made of the infraction and the student will be submitted to student conduct for further action. Multiple infractions may lead to termination of the student's access privileges.

Due to the potential problems that accompany using file-sharing programs, we recommend that all students uninstall them. Since many of them start automatically with the device and will share files without the user's knowledge, refraining from use of the program may be insufficient.

Are there legal ways to discover new music?

Fortunately, there are many legal alternatives to discover new music available that won't damage the network, won't put you at risk for viruses and malware, and don't use up a lot of bandwidth. We have compiled an extensive list of worthwhile, legal music services. Please follow the link to check out our list of legal alternatives.

If you would like to learn more about the legal issues surrounding file-sharing, check out http://www.answers.com/topic/copyright-infringement-1.

Missouri State University effectively combats the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by

  • Monitoring the network infrastructure for unusually heavy activity and taking appropriate steps to identify and shut down ports upon detection
  • Using networking technologies to severely limit network capacity to those programs used for illegally sharing media, making it impractical to download any quantity of material
  • Responding to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) or other external notices
  • Enforcing sanctions currently in place