Each year, UMass Dartmouth receives, on average, 100 reports of illegal filesharing.
Illegal filesharing is the downloading and sharing of copyrighted material online without permission. All individuals have legal and civic responsibilities to understand and abide by copyright laws.
United States copyright law protects the copyright owner from the reproduction of the author's work without permission. Today's technology--specifically peer-to-peer (P2P) filesharing--allows for easy transfer of files, including music, video, software, and other files. Unfortunately, these transfers can result in unlawful downloading and sharing of copyrighted materials.
Companies and associations aim to protect their members' intellectual properties. Their anti-piracy efforts include lawsuits to protect ownership--but also education and suggestions of legal alternatives.
Consequences of illegal filesharing at UMass Dartmouth
Entertainment companies and associations protecting copyrighted material notify the university when a computer on the university network is suspected of illegally sharing copyrighted materials. The university takes these notifications seriously, and students suspected of illegal filesharing--if performed on the student's university-registered computer or Internet connection--are referred to the university's student conduct process. The process is managed by the Office of Student Conduct and Dispute Resolution.
A student can be held responsible for filesharing under the university's Code of Conduct, even if the student is not aware that the act was occurring through his/her registered network. All students are asked to be:
- responsible for their own computers and the actions of their guests
- aware of university guidelines about routers
- aware of the potential liability when using filesharing applications
In some cases, students who are referred to the university's conduct process may also be subject to criminal proceedings and/or penalties from an external judicial system.
If UMass Dartmouth receives a report of a filesharing violation, the student involved can expect the following to occur:
- the student's Internet access will be shut off immediately
- the student will be asked to meet with a hearing officer, usually a Resident Director, to discuss the violation and receive information on how to resolve the issue
- the student will receive paperwork from the hearing officer with sanctions that must be completed before Internet access is reinstated, which may include:
- a $100 fee
- an educational assignment
- having the computer scanned and cleaned by a IT staff member
The student will also receive a disciplinary status with the university, which might include:
- residential/university jeopardy, or
- residential/university suspension or dismissal
Repeat offenders are subject to permanent loss of Internet privileges and a higher level of university disciplinary status.
Filesharing applications (such as BitTorrent, Kazaa, and LimeWire) make your files available for sharing even when you are not actively using those applications. You may be liable for filesharing violations simply by having one of these applications on a computer that is part of the university network.
These applications may also be difficult to disable-- "deleting" or "uninstalling" them may not be sufficient.
If you need help disabling or uninstalling a filesharing application, please contact the IT Service Center:
- Responsible use policy
- Network security