Sharing Music and Movies
Peer-to-Peer Programs (P2P)
Spurred on by the widespread use of the Internet, P2P programs have been developed to allow people to share information in digital formats. In particular, programs like KaZaA, Gnutella, Morpheus, AudioGalaxy, and others are commonly used to share music and movies without regard to the restrictions placed on that material by the copyright owners. Most commercially produced music and movies are copyrighted and cannot be freely downloaded or shared despite the ease of doing so. This is the law.
At Colorado College, we expect all system users to adhere to relevant copyright laws. Because our bandwidth is a costly and limited resource, we give priority to academic uses of our network. The downloading of music and movie files, which tend to be large, slows down our network for everyone. Thus while we do not access or examine the information content that is being transmitted (e.g., a particular song or video), ITS does monitor the type of information (e.g., MP3 file) so we can throttle such uses. This “traffic shaping” is a practice that is used at most higher education institutions today. We strongly encourage all members of the college community to be responsible users of our network resources – see our Acceptable Use policy.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
The DMCA specifies procedures that Colorado College and other higher education institutions must follow when notified that an individual using our network is violating copyright laws. If the copyright holder contacts IM about a violation we will notify the user that a notice has been received, require removal of the offending material from the user’s computer and may stop network access for the user. Such users have the right to claim that the material is not protected by copyright and defend their actions at their own expense against the copyright holder. To date, every notice we have received has resulted in the offending material being removed.
Recent Legal Actions
Recently, the RIAA has taken further action to subpoena the names of people who are sharing large amounts of music. If Colorado College receives a subpoena, we are legally required to provide the names of the violators using our network. These subpoenas can lead to lawsuits, substantial financial penalties and perhaps jail time. In the spring of 2003, for example, four students at other colleges settled copyright claims against them out-of-court for approximately $15,000 each. The consequences of illegally sharing copyrighted material over the Internet are serious. Some people have argued that the recording industry has been overcharging for music CDs and that music sharing is justified. Others feel that the recording industry has been too slow to adopt legal ways for music to be distributed over the Internet at lower cost. Regardless of these or other justifications, most music and movie downloading and sharing violates the law that we are bound to uphold. If you download and/or distribute copyrighted music and videos you are putting yourself at risk of losing computing privileges and facing prosecution under civil and criminal laws.
Because of functionality built into file-sharing software resident on your computer, your audio and video files may be available for uploading over the Internet without your knowledge or permission. For more information on how to turn off this functionality, and for other tips on responsible computing, please contact the Help Desk.