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  OIT Home > Security > Peer-To-Peer File Sharing
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Peer-To-Peer File Sharing & Copyright Law


October 7, 2004
To: The Campus Community
From: Mark Aldenderfer, Director, Office of Information Technology
Re: University Policy on Peer-to-Peer File Sharing and Copyright Law

Over the past year, numerous articles in newspapers, professional publications, and other media have discussed the sharing of copyrighted music, movies, games, and software over the Internet. The common method for sharing these kinds of files is through "peer to peer" (p2p) software and other programs. Peer-to-peer file sharing of copyrighted works without the permission of the copyright holder is against the law and prohibited by university policy. Hundreds of people across the nation who have allegedly shared copyrighted music without the permission of the copyright holder have been sued personally by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for violating the US copyright law, and students from at least two University of California campuses have been targeted by these efforts.

Given this, I believe it's timely to remind the campus community once again of the importance of complying with university policy and copyright laws. The university recognizes that the emergence of file sharing technologies challenges us all to think in new ways about copyright, legal obligations, and academic culture.

The university, a producer and consumer of intellectual property, is very interested in upholding copyright law. The University's Policy on Electronic Communications defines allowable use of all electronic communications resources provided by the university and requires that electronic communications comply with applicable intellectual property law (ECP Section III, Allowable Use, D.10). The policy applies to all students, all academic and staff employees, and all other individuals using university electronic communications resources. Sanctions for violating the policy are provided in ECP Section III, Allowable Use, E. It reads, "In compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the university reserves the right to suspend or terminate access to university electronic communications systems and services by any user who repeatedly violates copyright law."

Housing and Residential Services (H&RS) has allowable use policies for its residential users, as well. Violations of the H&RS computer use contract, which includes prohibitions against copyright infringement, will result in sanctions that can include loss of connectivity to the Internet from the student's campus housing. Housing and Residential Services computer use policy can be found online, including information on the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and the ResNet Responsible Use Policy. Complete information on the residential computer network is available in the ResNet FAQ.

Acknowledging that there are "fair uses" of copyrighted material, the university provides a review of policy and guidelines on the reproduction of copyrighted materials for teaching and research, thus enabling individuals to take responsibility for making the necessary decisions respecting compliance with the law. Violations of US copyright law can result in severe personal liabilities, including civil and criminal penalties. Therefore, if you are not certain whether sharing or reproducing (in any medium) a copyrighted work violates the copyright, consult these guidelines and, as necessary, the copyright holder.

I encourage you to become familiar with the copyright guidelines and law as well as with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that also governs our campus. The university's DMCA compliance guidelines are available online. If you have any questions about the DMCA, you may direct them to me. Specific concerns about copyright may be directed to the UCSB Copyright Office. For questions about university policy, contact Meta Clow.


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