JMU and other institutions of higher education have responsibilities under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 and more recently the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA) to combat copyright abuse and discourage illegal distribution of copyrighted materials.  In particular, illegal use of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing technology is a concern.  This site outlines JMU’s program for addressing these requirements and provides information to individuals about their obligations and alternatives under federal copyright law.

JMU’s Plan to Address Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Materials is available at: and is updated annually. Here is some information about the elements of the plan.

Internet file sharing is risky behavior. The following list provides details on some of the risks associated with file sharing.

  • File sharing increases the vulnerability of your computer. Without special care, running most music and file sharing programs allows anyone on the Internet to access files on your computer—presenting security, appropriate use and potential legal issues.
  • Distributing copyright protected materials is against the law and can result in lawsuits, fines, network privilege suspension, and/or action by JMU Judicial Affairs or Human Resources
  • Use of sharing software can lead to inadvertent sharing of sensitive data.  Peer-to-peer sharing software should not be installed under any circumstances on computers handling sensitive personal data.  It should only be installed on JMU-owned computers if directly job related.  All P2P users should use caution to avoid inadvertently sharing data other than what they have intended.
  • Security defects in sharing software can be discovered and exploited allowing others unintended access to your computer and data.
  • Criminals use file sharing networks to spread viruses and other malware by presenting them in share lists using innocuous names.
  • File sharing traffic can inhibit academic and business functions of the university by inordinately consuming bandwidth intended for these purposes

Individuals who find it necessary to download music and files through internet/P2P file sharing are responsible for configuring their software for safe and legal operation.  They should follow specific instructions for disallowing other computers access to their local files.

Annual Notice to the University Community

Since university policy prohibits use of the JMU network to violate copyright law or jeopardize the security of university technology or information resources, this notice distributed annually to all students, faculty, staff and affiliates outlining specific obligations and expectations.

Legal Alternatives for Online Content

Across the Internet myriad sources are available to provide media content within the bounds of copyright law.  A list of many such resources pertinent to use by the higher education community is maintained by Educause at:


Related JMU Resources/Policies

External References:

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