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Letter on File Sharing and Copyright

Letter to the Brandeis University Community from Perry Hanson, the Vice President and Vice Provost for Libraries and Technology Services, September 1, 2007. Original version sent May 5, 2003.

In the last few months, the issue of copyright violation at colleges and universities has become especially important because of increased enforcement efforts by copyright holders and new congressional interest in the subject. Students, faculty members, and staff who use file sharing software to transfer material they do not have rights to may be putting themselves and the university at significant risk.

Keep in mind that:

  1. Illegally transferring copyrighted material violates a fundamental tenet of our Computer Policy: Users must obey local, state, and federal laws including laws on copyright and other intellectual property laws. It may not always be obvious that your computer is sharing copyrighted files, but it is your responsibility to be sure that it is not.
  2. Excessive use of the network violates another fundamental tenet of our Computer Policy: Users should recognize that computing resources are limited and therefore should not exceed their reasonable share of resources. File sharing can involve excessive network use and, in turn, degrade service to others who rely on the network.

Actions you should take:

  • If you are using a file sharing application on our network, you should consider removing it from your computer. If you choose not to remove the application, you must ensure that your computer does not share copyrighted materials with others unless you have specific permission from the copyright owner. For example, most music files are protected by copyright, and the recording artists and companies that produce this music do not permit file sharing.

Possible consequences:

  • If an application on your computer on the Brandeis network shares copyrighted materials illegally, whether you know it or not, your access to the Brandeis network may be revoked. In such cases, the following offices will be notified as appropriate: Human Resources, Dean of Student Life, Provost.
  • If your personal computer on the Brandeis University network uses an excessive amount of network resources, your access to the Brandeis network may be restricted.
  • You may be sued or threatened with a lawsuit by the copyright holders of the material transferred to or from your system. In the last few months, 15 Brandeis community members were targeted with legal action.