Internet File Sharing and Copyright

Dear students, faculty, staff, and JMU affiliates,

Movies, music, games, software and other copyrighted materials are all just a click away on the Internet. Most of us at JMU engage with such content in productive and ethical ways.

This is an annual reminder that—without explicit permission of the owner—your possession or distribution of copyrighted material may be a violation of federal copyright law. Violations commonly occur 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 the educational, 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 you as an individual and forces the university toward increased involvement in handling complaints served by media organizations and the artists they represent. 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 federal requirements on us as an institution could make them necessary as a response to 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 obligation to behave responsibly and honor university policies and applicable laws. 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. Failure to respond will be handled in a manner consistent with existing JMU policies. Consequences can be serious, 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. To help you learn more about copyright and Fair Use, the JMU Libraries have provided an extensive Guide: Please also see the JMU Libraries Guide to Free Media for Creative Use: Finally, review for additional security and copyright information and further details on JMU processes for dealing with violators.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Robin Bryan, AVP/CIO, Information Technology

Bethany Nowviskie, Dean of Libraries & Sr. Academic Technology Officer

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