Peer-to-Peer File Sharing
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing is a general term that describes software programs that allow computer users, utilizing the same P2P software, to connect with each other and directly access digital files from one another's hard drives. Many copyrighted works may be stored in digital form, such as software, movies, videos, photographs, etc. Through P2P file sharing, it has become increasingly easy to store and transfer these copyrighted works to others thus increasing the risk that users of P2P software and file sharing technology will infringe the copyright protections of content owners.
If P2P file-sharing applications are installed on your computer, you may be sharing someone else’s copyrighted materials without realizing that you are doing so. As a user of the West network, it is important that you recognize the legal requirements of the files that you may be sharing with others. You should be very careful not to download and share copyrighted works with others.
The transfer and distribution of these works without authorization of the copyright holder is illegal and prohibited.
Violations and Penalties under Federal Law
In addition to University sanctions under its policies as more fully described below, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.
Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.
University Plans to Effectively Combat Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material
As a student, your conduct in University classrooms and on websites is subject to and must fully conform to the Student Code of Conduct policy, the Acceptable Use policy, and any other applicable University policies.
The University may monitor traffic or bandwidth on our networks utilizing information technology programs designed to detect and identify indicators of illegal peer-to peer file sharing activity. In addition to, or as an alternative, the University may employ other technical means to reduce or block illegal file sharing and other impermissible activities.
West will also provide for vigorous enforcement and remediation activities for those students identified through the University Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) policy as potential violators or infringers of copyright.
Disciplinary sanctions will be based on the seriousness of the situation and may include remediation based on a comprehensive system of graduated responses designed to curb illegal file sharing and copyright offenses through limiting and denial of network access or other appropriate means. These sanctions may be in conjunction with additional sanctions through the Student Code of Conduct, its Acceptable Use Policy and any other West policy applicable to the particular situation.
Students who are subject to professional codes of conduct that apply to their enrollment at the University shall be sanctioned according to the requirements of the respective code.
Education and Awareness
West uses a variety of means to inform our students, faculty, and other network users about copyright laws and West’s response to copyright infringement claims:
- West informs its campus community through our Consumer Information Guide and other periodic communications, that unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject students and faculty to civil and criminal liabilities and the extent of the possible liabilities;
- The Consumer Information Guide is available on our website, http://west.edu/sites/default/files/West-Consumer-Information-Notice.pdf, provided to potential students and employees, and emailed annually to current students, faculty, and employees.
Legal Sources for Online Music and Videos
The following links are online sources that provide information on legal access to copyrighted music and videos: