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What is Filesharing?

Peer-to-peer (P2P) filesharing programs, which can be downloaded for free from the Internet, enable people to participate in a file-sharing "community."


FACT: It is illegal to download to your computer, copyrighted materials (including music, video, images, games, software, etc.) for which you have not obtained a license through purchase, rental agreement, or written permission from the copyright owner.

FACT: It is illegal to distribute (share) copyrighted materials using your computer without the written permission of the copyright owner, even if you have obtained a license for the material through purchase or rental agreement.

FACT: Violating copyright laws is a serious issue that can result in severe legal consequences. Copyright infringement also violates SU's Information Technology Resources Acceptable Use Policy and can result in University disciplinary action against students, faculty, and staff.


MYTH: Downloading music, videos, games from the Internet is free and anonymous.

REALITY: Copyright holders can trace illegal downloading or uploading (sharing) of copyrighted materials to your computer's IP address. A single violation-one song, one movie, one game-can cost you more than $3,000. In fact, several SU students recently paid $3,000 plus attorney fees to settle RIAA complaints of alleged copyright violations.

MYTH: It's okay to share on the Internet a CD, movie, or game that you have purchased.

REALITY: Purchasing copyrighted material does not give you the right to share copies (or distribute copies) of that material with others. Copyright owners determine the number and price of copies that will be distributed. Copyright owners have the sole authority to distribute copies of their protected work.

MYTH: It's okay to download songs, movies, software that you purchased sometime during the past, but have since lost.

REALITY: Purchasing a copy of a song, video, game, or software in the past does not give you the right to free downloads of the material in the future. You may, however, convert a copy of a song or video into another format for your own personal use.

MYTH: The RIAA never files complaints against people who only occasionally download a song or who have downloaded or shared fewer than 1,000 songs.

REALITY: RIAA lawsuits initially focused on "egregious infringers" (those with hundreds of files available). Today, the RIAA does not have "any minimum amount of files in order to move forward with a lawsuit," said Steven Marks, general counsel for the Recording Industry Association of America, during an online chat with college newspaper reporters in March 2007. Complaints have been filed against SU students who have downloaded or shared just one file.

MYTH: If you only occasionally download music and you never "share" music across the Internet, your computer won't catch the RIAA's attention.

REALITY: P2P programs are automatically configured to share all of the music on your computer across the Internet. These programs often work in the background of your computer's operating system and are difficult to disable. You may unwittingly be sharing both music you obtained legally and music you obtained through illegal downloads.

MYTH: It's okay to download a television program you missed because you could have legally recorded it, but you forgot to set the VCR or DVD player.

REALITY: It is not okay to download or share television programs on the Internet without the permission of the copyright owner through purchase or rental agreement (i.e. Fox Television). Television producers are increasingly filing complaints against illegal downloads and sharing of copyrighted programs.

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