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File Sharing FAQ

Answers to your questions about file sharing.

What is file sharing?

File sharing is the process of exchanging files over the Internet. Methods of file sharing include:

  1. Running an FTP server or using an FTP program
  2. Internet Relay Chat (IRC) to share files
  3. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) is the most common and includes such programs as:
    1. KaZaA (which uses the FastTrack protocol)
    2. LimeWire (which uses the Gnutella protocol)
    3. BitTorrent

Peer-to-Peer programs normally share files by default and will allow the maximum bandwidth available, which can cause network problems.

Can I disable file sharing?

Disabling file sharing in these programs is no guarantee that they will not continue to share files. The only way to be sure that file sharing is disabled is to remove the program.

Why is file sharing a problem?

Most file sharing is against the law because it involves the distribution of copyrighted materials without permission from the copyright owner, usually music (MP3) or movie files, but also TV programs, books, and images.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has undertaken a campaign of suing people for downloading or uploading copyrighted material without permission. If a complaint is received about a student illegally sharing out material, that student is disconnected from the network until he or she removes the file sharing software. While IUP charges $30 to reconnect a user disconnected because of file-sharing complaints, other universities, such as Stanford, charge as much as $100 to $500 for such infractions (external pdf).

Stanford's policy on file-sharing is here (external)

This effort by the RIAA has focused on university students. As of this date, three IUP students have litigation pending for sharing out files without the permission of the copyright holder.

Summary of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act from the U.S. Copyright Office (PDF)

Could my port be deactivated?

If the university receives a copyright complaint about your file-sharing activity, your port will be disabled and you will have to sign a form stating you will not file share while you are on the campus network. You will also be charged a fee to reactivate the port.

What are early-settlement notices?

The university is starting to receive these notices from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). These are an offer to people who the RIAA believes are offering their copyrighted material for download to other users to settle out of court in lieu of a lawsuit. Students at other universities have paid tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-court settlements.

Recent news items:

Could I get sued?

The RIAA has sued more than 10,000 individuals in the last few years for illegally sharing copyrighted material. Many of the individuals sued were students like you. IUP received four subpoenas at the end of the Fall 2007 semester and notified the students before fulfilling the subpoenas.

Recent news items:

Could file sharing get my computer infected with a virus or hacked?

Recent studies have shown that a large portion of the files shared are infected with malware of some sort. If your computer is infected, someone could access your personal information or use your computer to attack other computers, leaving only your IP address as the evidence for the authorities.

How does file sharing affect Internet speed?

When file-sharing software is running on your computer, you could have thousands of users connecting to your computer to download files from it. This slows down your computer and makes your Internet connection slow to a crawl.

Is there a rule against file sharing on campus?

Use of any type of server software, including any file-sharing software, is against the ResNet Acceptable Use Policy. If you violate this policy, your port will be disabled and you could face university judicial sanctions.

Is there a legal alternative to file sharing?

Please delete any file-sharing software from your computer before you plug into IUP Residential Network. There are many music services available, such as iTunes and Zune. There are also many streaming radio services. Pandora is one of many popular streaming music sites.

If I connect through IUP's wireless network and use file sharing, could I be at risk?

Yes. IUP has received take-down notices and subpoenas for students using file sharing through IUP’s wireless network.

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