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Downloading or distributing copyrighted material, including through peer-to-peer file sharing, without the permission of the copyright owner is against the law. Illegal downloading or distribution of copyrighted materials can result in you being prosecuted in criminal court and/or sued for damages in civil court. Criminal penalties for first-time offenders can be as high as five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. If sued in civil court, you may be responsible for monetary damages, attorneys' fees and civil penalties up to $150,000 per work distributed. Use of Metropolitan State University resources for unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials is forbidden.

Metropolitan State University prohibits illegal copyright infringement through its acceptable use policies as well as student conduct code. Disciplinary action, including loss of use of the university information technology systems up to and including expulsion from the university, could result from violations of this policy.

To see a list of legal alternatives, please visit http://www.educause.edu/legalcontent

P2P File Sharing

Programs like Kazaa, Ares, iMesh and Limewire (Free and Pro versions) are popular ways to share music and movie files across the Internet, but they pose legal and security risks that can result in serious trouble for you ó even court cases and fines. Representatives of copyright holders, such as the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), have filed cases against college students who have illegally downloaded and shared music and movies.

Avoiding P2P (Peer-to-peer) file sharing programs will help you avoid these potential problems:

Copyright Infringement

This is a serious legal violation. P2P applications can be used to share music and movie files with others on the Internet. But most music and movies are protected under federal copyright law and cannot be freely shared.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a law intended to address digital copyright issues, has very specific procedures within it that MnSCU and Metropolitan State University must follow when notified that someone using our network is allegedly violating copyright law.

If Metropolitan State University is notified of a violation, we must immediately respond.

Malicious Software

Many P2P applications install adware http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/a/adware.html and/or spyware http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/s/spyware.html on your computer. These programs can cause annoying pop-up advertisements and collect information about you and your computing habits. In addition, these programs often interfere with your computerís operation and can make tasks such as browsing the web frustrating.

P2P networks are also commonly used to spread viruses. While you may think you are downloading the latest single by your favorite group, you are actually downloading a virus which will infect your computer and spread to other computers on our network and the Internet.



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