USU Internet policies adapted at USU-Eastern

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Students can be fined for copyright infringement
Posted Wednesday, April 6, 2011 - 8:32pm

Natalie Sandoval

staff writer

[email protected]

By now everyone knows access to the Internet is a must have. There isn’t much that you can do without a computer anymore. So what restrictions come with using the Internet on USU Eastern campus?

Although these are not new policies, most students are not familiar with them. Most of the policies deal with copyright laws that involve the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) and the Appropriate Use Policy. So what can you not do? You can find out most of this information at www.copyright.gov/help/faq.

The HEOA has requirements for the guidelines of peer-to-peer (P2P) applications when used in ways that infringe on the copyrights of commercial works (usually entertainment media files). Several sections of the HEOA deal with unauthorized file sharing on campus networks, imposing three general requirements on all U.S. colleges and universities, all of which you can find on the website listed above.

What happens if you do violate these laws? Bob Bayn works on the security team in the office of information technology at Utah State University and explained that the penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In short, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or “statutory” damages costing you nothing less than $750 and nothing more than $30,000 out of your pocket. For “willful” infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can also assess costs and attorney’s fees.

On the copyright website it reads, users of resources must follow federal, state and local laws, with special attention to intellectual property laws (copyright), communications laws (libel, harassment, obscenity, child pornography, privacy, etc.) and government property laws (non-commercial use, etc.) Users must also protect the integrity of the resource and the confidentiality of stored and transmitted data by following directions specific to the resource being used and the data being accessed.

Another question that may rise is, “when do I know when I’m violating the copyright laws?” Bayn says that is something some people may do all the time and never know about it. If you have a program, application or service on your computer that allows you to get any song, video, game or other entertainment file that you want for free even though you could buy it in the store or online, you are at risk of violating copyright and being discovered and prosecuted.

That program is probably a P2P file sharing program and may have a name like BitTorrent, LimeWire, Shareaza, Kazaa, iMesh, Bearshare, eMule, KCeasy, Ares Galaxy, Soulseek, WinMX, Piolet, Gnutella, Overnet, Azureus, Vuze, FrostWire, uTorrent, Morpheus, ANts, or Acquisition (there are also many others.)

When you use a P2P program to get an entertainment file, you are connecting to the same P2P program of someone like you who has already obtained the file. Then your P2P program silently and automatically becomes a provider of that file to others on the Internet, without telling you who is getting the file from your computer. That may violate copyright.

Bayn wrote in an email “I should emphasize that USU does not search network traffic for illegal file sharing, be we respond to complaints from the “copyright watchdogs” who do monitor the internet for copyrighted files that are available for free download. After 8-9 years of processing DMCA copyright complaints, I’ve concluded that most students who get “caught” don’t understand that the program they use to get files also silently advertises that availability of those files on the their computer to others. It’s that silent, outbound sharing that the copyright watchdogs detect and fire off their legal complaints.”

Weird right? Now that you have all the info you may want to be more careful when surfing the web to download those bands and movies you love so much.

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