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Illegal File Sharing and Downloading

Violators risk student conduct action, monetary fines, and even jail time.

The following information has been compiled to let the student body know more about copyright, the law, and the risks that you take on when you knowingly or unknowingly violate the law. Please read this information and discuss it with your friends.

Current Sanctions for Violations

  • First Violation : Warning letter sent. Acknowledgement of notice required from student.
  • Second Violation : $100.00 fine; Acknowledgement of notice required from student; Disciplinary probation.
  • Third Violation : Up to $500.00 fine; Acknowledgement of notice required from student; Network account temporarily disabled; Deferred Suspension.
NOTE:  Fines collected shall support Student Affairs educational initiatives.

Website Resources

Do you download music? Movies? And what do you use, iTunes? How about something else? Or do you know someone who uses Limewire or Bittorrent or another program?

What's the issue?

The entertainment industry – Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Warner Brothers, HBO, NBC/Universal, video game/software companies, and others – scans Drexel's network. When they find their copyrighted material (songs, movies, television shows, games, etc.) being shared (seeded, uploaded) over the network, they contact Drexel. Under federal law, Drexel is obligated to respond. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) programs often allow media files to be shared out so other users can download them.

But I didn't download at Drexel!?!?

It does not matter whether the files were downloaded at home, off-campus, or in another country. The entertainment industry detects the sharing.

Can't I just set it to not share/seed?

You could. Keep in mind downloading copyrighted materials without paying for them is still illegal. As well, certain applications, like torrent programs automatically cause your computer to share when you download. Additionally, a number of students have been careless by altering their settings when they are not using Drexel's network and come back to campus forgetting to reset. They have also allowed their friends to use their computer or their jack in their room.

But I don't live on-campus anymore!

It does not matter how or where you connect to the Drexel network – through the jack in your residence hall/fraternity/sorority room or DragonFly.

I didn't know my computer was doing this!

Not knowing is not an excuse. YOU are responsible for what goes on to your computer and what you allow to be done over Drexel's network. Fortunately, IRT sends a warning on a first detection. Get your computer fixed. (Note: the entertainment industry could still sue you even for one violation!)

So what should I do?

The P2P programs themselves are not illegal and have practical uses. If you trust yourself to use them properly, by all means keep them on your computer. If not, remove (uninstall) these programs and delete any improperly obtained files. Contact IRT for assistance as some of these programs are tricky.

Also consider paying for your entertainment. Additionally, streaming (through websites like Hulu) is completely legal.

What are the consequences if I don't take care of this?

On a first violation, IRT sends out a warning. Future violations could result in disciplinary action including fines and loss of network privileges. Additionally, the entertainment industry may choose to file a lawsuit against you (and/or Drexel).
In the 2009-2010 academic year, over 120 students met with a University Conduct Officer for a second or more violation. Please do not end up as one of those students.

I still don't see what the big deal is!

A number of students have also expressed how expensive it is to go to a movie or buy a CD/DVD. Ask yourself if you would go into Target or BestBuy and shoplift a DVD or CD or sneak into a movie theatre. How about if you knew you would not get caught? A lot of students have answered that doing it over the internet is so easy and does not feel like you are physically stealing. If you had access to a company's finances, would you electronically transfer money from that account to yours? Why not? That's not physical either.
Intellectual property is protected by law – creative works have just as much protection as patents and inventions. As a Drexel student, you will hopefully go on to do great things in your chosen field. The ideas you come up with and the work you put into it should not be copied and distributed without your permission. Please respect the work of others.

For additional information, please see the IRT website: http://www.drexel.edu/irt/security/copyright/