File Sharing Stance and Copyright Violation Procedure

Is Downloading Copyrighted Material Against the Law?

  • If you are downloading music/movies or other copyrighted material using Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing technology (such as Kazaa, Limewire, etc.),you are potentially breaking the law.  Peer-to-Peer file sharing of copyrighted works without the permission of the copyright holder is called copyright infringement.

  • The Copyright Act grants copyright owners the exclusive rights of reproduction and distribution of their material.  When you download a copyrighted song, you are violating reproduction rights; when you share music files, you are violating distribution rights.
  • Civil Fines range from $750 to $150,000 for each infringed work, depending on the willfulness of the infringement.
  • The Recording Industry Association of America is aggressively suing individuals who illegally participate in illegal peer-to-peer file sharing on the Internet. Hundreds have been sued and many defendants are college students.

What will happen if ACU is notified that I am downloading or sharing copyrighted material illegally?

  • First Violation
    • Step 1 - Your Internet access will be revoked and disconnected.
    • Step 2 - An official letter from ACU will be mailed to your address with the complaint.
    • Step 3 - You will be required to meet with our campus security administrator to: 
      • Explain the charges
      • Verify that you understand what copyright infringement means.
      • Disable the application that you are using to access or share this illegal material.
    • Step 4 - Your network access will be restored several days after the meeting.
  • Second Violation
    • Step 1 - Your Internet access will be revoked and disconnected.
    • Step 2 - An official letter from ACU will be mailed to your address with the complaint.
    • Step 3 - A copy of the letter will be sent to the Dean of Student Life.
    • Step 4 - You will be required to meet with the Dean of Student Life.
    • Step 5 - Your Internet access will be restored if the dean makes the decision to do so.

Why I SHOULD NOT Use P2P File Sharing!!!

  • If you are caught sharing or downloading large amounts of copyrighted data, your access will be disconnected and not restored until you go through the procedure listed above.
  • Peer-to-peer file sharing is often infested with viruses and opens up the door for computer infection.
  • Spyware is a byproduct of peer-to-peer file-sharing and is often installed with the Peer-to-peer application.
  • They use large amounts of bandwidth and slow down the network for everyone.  Someone who is using up all the bandwidth means you can't play network games, surf the web, or even chat.
  • They give illegal access to copyrighted material.

Legal Alternatives

  • iTunes provides you with the largest selection of legal music, video, and audio books to purchase and download to your computer. 
  • Amazon also has a store that provides legal copies of digital books and music. 
  • Consider using sites like or to watch movies and TV episodes.

How Does P2P Software Work?

  • As the name implies, file-sharing software allows you to share content on your computer's hard drive with other computers connected to the Internet. Essentially, it makes contact with a centralized server and uploads your list of available files. This list is made available to others who are also logged into that server. If someone wants one of those files, the server provides them with your computer’s address, so that their computer can connect directly to yours through the Internet, peer-to-peer.
  • Some P2P software, rather than employing a single central server, simply seeks out other computers on the Internet using the same software, and informs them of your presence online. In this way, a network of computers is built up, which can make many thousands of files freely available to everyone running the same P2P software.  The most common P2P programs are Direct Connect, KaZaA, iMesh, WinMX, BearShare, eDonkey, I-Share, Morpheus and Grokster.

Legal Issues With P2P File Sharing

  • Sharing of copyrighted material without permission is illegal, because the author of the material (writer, song artist, film distributor, etc) has not given permission for the material to be distributed. However, peer-to-peer services are legal. Many companies use them internally for legal file sharing.
  • It is important to understand that the absence of a copyright notice does not imply that a file is freely available for copy. The warning notice may have been modified or removed. In fact, there are many who believe that traps now exist on the Internet where material subject to copyright is deliberately offered in order to track IP addresses and catch users who unwittingly download and share this material.