Eastern Connecticut State University Knowledgebase

Peer-2-Peer Software and File Sharing Summary

Article ID: 43
Last updated: 20 Jan, 2015

P2P software such as eDonky, LimeWire, and BitTorrent enables computers on a network to share files containing content such as music, movies and games. For example, the software can be used to search the network for a copy of a specific song that is available for 'sharing'. Once located, the song can then be downloaded and enjoyed.

If the material being copied is 'in the public domain', P2P software can be legally used to copy and share it. However, if the material is copyright protected, sharing it without the permission of the copyright holder violates federal laws and University policies. For more information about copyright violation see the section on Article 42: Consequences of Copyright Infringement.

Copyright owners often specifically target university networks and search for unauthorized file sharing activities. When they find computers engaging in this activity they can and will take steps to identify the person who has registered that computer for use on the network. Lawsuits have been filed against thousands of individuals using P2P software. Many of these individuals have had to pay significant fines to avoid even more severe penalties.

Some P2P software companies claim that they provide users of their software with anonymity. However, if you use Eastern's network for P2P file sharing, you are not anonymous. Information about your P2P activities and the identity of your computer is available to those searching for unauthorized file sharing. This information can be specifically linked to you.

Reputable P2P software services are available and legal to use. These services have secured the permission of the copyright owner to distribute copies of their work. For a list of Internet sites that provide legitimate file sharing services see Article 44: A List of Sources for Downloadable Materials.

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Article ID: 43
Last updated: 20 Jan, 2015
Revision: 3
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