Illegal File Sharing and Copyright Infringement

The Internet offers a vast adventure in content—movies, music, games, software and other copyrighted materials are all just a click away. Engaging with these resources we find new experiences that entertain and enlighten. Though most of us do this in productive and ethical ways, some have exhibited behaviors that cause problems individually or threaten our community.

This is to remind you that lacking explicit permission of the copyright owner to possess or distribute the material, you may be in violation of federal copyright law. A specific example of how such a violation can happen is through naïve or disreputable use of Internet file sharing. Individuals use of peer-to-peer (P2P) applications such as BitTorrent, KaZza, Limewire, Gnutella, eDonkey and BearShare have previously caused unwarranted congestion of the JMU network, denying access for others and impacting the education, research and service functions of the university.

Inappropriate use of file sharing programs to exchange copyrighted songs, movies, software and games has also resulted in legal risk to some individuals in our community and forced the university’s increased involvement in complaints served by media representatives on such persons. Aggressive steps—such as invasive content scans, suspension of Internet access and cooperation with industry representatives as they pursue legal remedies—are potentially necessary actions. At many other universities such actions have already been taken.

In keeping with the principle of promoting individual responsibility within our university community, JMU has traditionally relied heavily on the ethical commitment of students, faculty and staff to behave responsibly. Each member of the JMU community is expected to honor university policies and applicable laws. Yet each year there are some among us who abuse this trust by using the university’s information technology resources inappropriately.

Those who choose to abuse this trust must realize that when possible violations of copyright law are brought to our attention, JMU administrators have no choice but to make contact and ask for remedy of the situation. Failure to respond to such a request will be handled in a manner consistent with existing JMU policies. Serious consequences, including suspension or termination from the university, may follow. And those who violate copyright law are also subject to civil and criminal penalties that can be quite severe.

Please avoid such a situation by informing yourself about JMU policies, educating others, and demonstrating responsible behavior and respect for the rights of copyright owners--as well as those of your fellow members of the JMU community.

See www.jmu.edu/computing/fileshare.shtml for additional security details and applicable policies.

Thank you for your cooperation.

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