Internet File Sharing and Copyright

 

All students, faculty, staff, and affiliates,

Movies, music, games, software and other copyrighted materials are all just an Internet click away on the Internet. Though most of us at JMU engage with such content in productive and ethical ways, some in our community exhibit behaviors that cause problems individually or that threaten our community.

So this is a reminder—without explicit permission of the copyright owner, your possession or distribution of copyrighted material may be a violation of federal copyright law. A common way such a violation can happen is through naïve or ill-advised use of Internet file sharing. Use of peer-to-peer (P2P) applications such as BitTorrent, Kazaa, Gnutella, etc. can easily lead to illegal file sharing situations and have previously caused unwarranted congestion of the JMU network, denied access for others and impacted education, research and service efforts of the university.

Inappropriate use of file sharing programs to exchange copyrighted songs, movies, software and games presents legal risk to the individual and forces the university toward increased involvement in handling complaints served by media organizations and the artists they serve. Use of aggressive steps, such as invasive content scans, suspension of Internet access and cooperation with industry representatives as they pursue legal remedies are not the preferred JMU Way, but they are potentially necessary actions should individuals pursue illegal file sharing.

Advocating instead for individual responsibility within our university community, JMU relies heavily on the ethical commitment of our students, faculty and staff. Each member of the JMU community is advised of their expected obligation to behave responsibly and honor university policies and applicable laws. Still, each year there are a few among us who use the university’s information technology resources inappropriately and violate copyright provisions.

Those who choose to abuse our community’s trust must realize that when possible violations of copyright law are brought to our attention, JMU Information Technology and its network delivery partners have no choice but to make contact and seek remedy of the situation. An individual’s failure to respond to such contacts will be handled in a manner consistent with existing JMU policies. Consequences can be serious—up to and including suspension or termination from the university. Additionally, those who violate copyright law may be subject to severe civil and/or criminal penalties.

To avoid such a situation, please respect the rights of copyright owners and other members of the JMU community by informing yourself about JMU policies, educating others, and demonstrating responsible behavior. Please see www.jmu.edu/computing/fileshare.shtml for additional security and copyright information and further details on JMU processes for dealing with violators.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Dale B. Hulvey, AVP
Information Technology

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