Copyright Law and Filesharing

The Acceptable Use Policy of the Claremont Colleges

The College’s policy on the Acceptable Use of Computing and Network Resources states that “you must conform to laws and Colleges policies regarding protection of intellectual property, including laws and policies regarding copyright, patents, and trademarks. When the content and distribution of an electronic communication would exceed fair use as defined by the federal Copyright Act of 1976, users of campus computing or networking resources shall secure appropriate permission to distribute protected material in any form, including text, photographic images, audio, video, graphic illustrations, and computer software.”

File Sharing Technology

Current technology easily allows your personal computer to duplicate and distribute copyrighted video images, audio recordings and other digital materials. Unfortunately this makes it is easy for you to violate college policy and US copyright law. For this reason you should know the use of popular and freely distributed file sharing programs such as KaZaA, Gnutella (Morpheus, LimeWire, Gnucleus, Bearshare), Aimster, iMesh, and many other programs to download copyrighted music and video material, in almost every case, places you in violation of the Claremont Colleges' policy and US law.

Most of these programs by default allow Internet users to copy files from your computer. Most programs don't alert you in advance or even ask your permission before turning your computer into an Internet file server. Some of these programs also install hidden components that allow file sharing to run in the background on your computer. As a result, whenever your computer is turned on, the file sharing application is also enabled, even if you don't open the application or actively use the program. This places you at great risk of violating the policy of the the Claremont Colleges and the copyright law by becoming an unlawful distributor of copyrighted material. For example, what you may believe to be a single one-time policy violation consisting of downloading a single track of music from a popular CD is actually an around-the-clock violation of college policy and copyright law because anytime your computer is turned on it is publicly announcing to the Internet (perhaps unknowingly to you) that the single music track you previously downloaded is now available on your computer for distribution via the network. Because the colleges have a reliable and large capacity connection to the Internet and because these file sharing programs favor computers connected to fast reliable networks, thousands of other Internet users flock to your computer to download your file.

For additional information on dowloading and fileshring issues check out these resources: EDUCAUSE and MusicUnited. Also a useful resource is the U.S. Senate hearing on this issue entitled, Privacy & Piracy: The Paradox of Illegal File Sharing on Peer-to-Peer Networks and the Impact of Technology on the Entertainment Industry.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

You should also be acutely aware that under the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) law enforcement agencies, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and other copyright holders of digital media are actively monitoring the Internet for users who are actively distributing copyrighted material. The recording, film and software industries have recently become very aggressive in their active pursuit of copyright infringement. They have spent millions of dollars, and they have hired hi-tech firms to develop and maintain software which is able to search the Internet and identify unauthorized distribution of their protected titles. This active monitoring is specifically designed to search for distribution of materials using the most commonly used software packages including KaZaA, Gnutella (Morpheus, LimeWire, Gnucleus, Bearshare), Aimster, iMesh, as well as many others. The Claremont Colleges regularly receive formal DMCA complaints from legal authorities representing copyright holders stating that computers on the college network were involved in the unlawful distribution of copyrighted materials. In the majority of cases, each case was easily traced back to a student computer connected to the campus network, running one of the common file sharing programs. Many of the cases involved unsophisticated and first time use of these programs. It is clearly not safe to assume that even the most casual copyright policy violation will go undetected.

When a copyright holder or their agent contacts the Claremont Colleges about an occurrence of copyright violation, the respective school where the alleged infraction took place is required to take action under the terms of the DMCA (refer to your own institutions specific policy and procedures relative to the DMCA). If you are suspected of infringement, you will receive a notice from your school about the matter. For additional information on your rights and resonsibilities please see the website of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Everyone must abide by copyright restrictions and the Claremont Colleges' Acceptable Use Policy. By installing and running these common file sharing applications you are putting yourself at great risk, and unless you are sure your use of such programs is not a violation of the Claremont Colleges' Copyright Policy or the law, it is strongly encouraged that you avoid their use.

Please keep in mind that you are responsible for all uses of your computer, and that network use by a computer can be traced to its registered owner.