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File Sharing & Copyright Infringement

Why you should be concerned about file sharing

You may face College disciplinary sanctions

Using file sharing software to obtain or distribute copyrighted materials without permission violates the Computing & Networking Appropriate Use Policy, to which all users of all College computing and networking resources must adhere. It also violates the Student Computer Networking Terms & Conditions, to which students agree to adhere when registering computers on the campus network. Sharing copyrighted materials may result in your computer being disconnected from the network temporarily or permanently. This type of violation will be recorded in your student record or employee personnel file, and may result in other disciplinary action. For the specific policies and procedures we follow relating to copyright infringement claims filed under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, see St. Norbert College Policy and Procedures Relating to Copyright Infringement Claims under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

You are responsible for knowing the policies and procedures that govern computer use on campus. Ignorance is not a valid excuse. You are also responsible for any misuse that happens from your computer, even if you were not the one who did it. If you have any questions or need more information, please don't be afraid to ask. You will not get in trouble for asking about file sharing! We want you to understand these issues so that you can make informed decisions.

It's illegal!

St. Norbert College does not condone violations of copyright or intellectual property laws, and will be in no way responsible if legal action is brought against you. Simply said, if you're caught violating copyright laws, you will suffer the consequences.

Although file sharing programs themselves are not illegal, they are usually used for the illegal downloading and distribution of audio, video, and software files. Downloading or distributing copyrighted material is a violation of federal law, even if it is not done for profit, even if you claim not to know it's illegal (again, ignorance is not a valid excuse). Legal action may be taken against you by the copyright holder(s) of any illegal material found on your computer.

If illegal materials are found on your computer, legal action may be taken against you by the copyright holder(s) of that material. Federal law (Title 17, United States Code, Sections 501 and 506) provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution, rental, or digital transmission of copyrighted sound recordings. Criminal penalties can be as high as five years in prison or $250,000 in fines. Civil penalties can be $750 to $150,000 for each work (each song, movie, tv show, game, or software program) being illegally distributed.

If you think that "they won't come after you," or that individuals at small places like St. Norbert College are unlikely to be noticed, think again. Copyright holders have intensified their efforts to identify infringements, no matter how small. As the Internet Service Provider to all on-campus residents, St. Norbert College regularly receives complaints from organizations acting on behalf of the entertainment and software industries regarding users on our network illegally trading copyrighted files. For the policies and procedures we follow when we receive those claims, see St. Norbert College Policy and Procedures Relating to Copyright Infringement Claims under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

We strongly recommend that you uninstall all file-sharing software from your computer and remove all illegally obtained files.

File sharing programs make your computer slow

Is your computer slow? Does it freeze up or crash a lot? Does your Internet connection seem slow? Your file sharing software may be to blame!

For one thing, file sharing programs automatically configure themselves so that they are always running in the background on your computer. Having these programs running in the background can cause your computer to run slowly and be unstable. They also turn your computer into a server (which violates the Student Computer Networking Terms & Conditions) so that others can download files from it, thereby using up your computing power and your Internet connection.

Even worse, many file sharing programs install spyware on your computer. This spyware can monitor your computer activity, gather information about you that criminals use for identity theft, and totally mess up your computer. In addition to those risks, spyware uses up your computer's system resources and can drastically reduce its performance. These programs may also conflict with other programs you use, causing them to crash or not to run at all. For more information, see File Sharing Software, Spyware, & your Computer and Spyware, Scams, & Other Online Hazards.

File sharing interferes with use of the network by others

The College's Internet access is a shared resource with a limited amount of bandwidth (capacity). Internet access is provided to the College community for the purposes of academic work, e-mail, and web-based research. Just as in other areas of life at St. Norbert College, you are expected to be respectful of the needs of other members of the College community, and to use this resource responsibly and not abuse it.

Not only can file sharing significantly slow the performance of your computer, but it can also severely impact network performance for the College as a whole. Because there are some legitimate applications of file sharing software, the College has not completely blocked these activities on our network. However, because file sharing interferes with use of the network by others by using up available bandwidth, this type of activity has been restricted to a limited amount of our network bandwidth.

Legal Alternatives

The College strongly encourages all students and employees to remain safe and legal by refraining from trading copyrighted audio, video, software, and games. Use legal online services instead, such as those listed on these sites:

More information

For the specific policies and procedures we follow relating to copyright infringement claims filed under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, see St. Norbert College Policy and Procedures Relating to Copyright Infringement Claims under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

For information regarding our compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), see St. Norbert College Compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Requirements.

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Approved by the Information Services Advisory Committee, November 2009.

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Information Technology Services

Phone: (920) 403-4040
Fax: (920) 403-4084
E-mail: it@snc.edu


St. Norbert College • 100 Grant Street • De Pere, WI 54115-2099 • 920-337-3181