During an academic year, I talk to dozens of students about the risks and consequences of using peer-to-peer (p2p) applications for file sharing. Some students are identified by our networking staff for using excessive bandwidth and others are summoned to my office following the receipt of a copyright infringement notice from the RIAA.
UNK's position is simply stated: downloading and sharing copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder is illegal and you should not do it.
By the time our students arrive on campus, many have already installed p2p applications to download and share copyrighted materials. Why should they pay for a song or movie when it's available for free? And as long as it's free, why not share it with other friends?
We would not shoplift a CD from a retail store and few of us would want our own work, whether a research paper, a term project, or a musical performance, stolen and used without our permission. But that is what happens when copyrighted files are downloaded and shared.
For computers using excessive bandwidth or targeted by a copyright infringement notice, we disable Internet access, talk with the owner of the machine, and ask that the p2p application and the copyrighted material be removed. That is usually the end of the matter.
There are many places to purchase inexpensive music and movies, so please, respect copyright laws. We also want our students to educate themselves on the risks of p2p file sharing, which can include malware infections and theft of personal information stored on a computer. If you know the risks and the possible consequences, I hope you decide to NOT install a p2p application to share copyrighted files.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Information Technology
University of Nebraska at Kearney