Peer-to-Peer & File Sharing

Message to Students from Assistant Vice president regarding P2P file sharing

Peer-to-peer (or p2p) networking is a popular way of sharing files. Inspired by openness and sharing of the Internet and computing environment, both legal and illegal uses are possible, but sharing files can bring with it other dangers.

Have questions about Peer-to-Peer file sharing? See our FAQ

File sharing and p2p applications are banned from the UNK network. We know that much of the peer-to-peer activity on our network prior to the ban was music and video files copied for personal entertainment. If you choose to use p2p applications, you need to be aware of the following:

  • Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.
  • Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or “statutory” damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For “willful” infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys’ fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505. Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment or up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.
  • A major problem is the excessive use of bandwidth by p2p applications, which slows down other network and Internet traffic for you and for others.
  • Spyware and viruses are often spread by p2p applications. Both can result from the installation of the software and from copying files on the file sharing network. This malware can infect your computer, causing annoying and even malicious behavior, or it may allow others to use your computer without your knowledge and provide access to private information stored on your computer, putting you at risk of identity theft or theft of banking or credit card information. These viruses and spyware can be difficult to remove.
  • It is possible to accidentally download and share illegal materials, such as child pornography. File names can be misleading.
  • The music, movie and television industries actively search for copyrighted files available for download on the UNK campus.
  • If your computer violates UNK policies, it may be removed from the UNK network.
  • For more information, see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially the FAQ’s at

Most p2p applications enable file sharing by default, so unless you take specific action to prevent it, files downloaded with a p2p application will automatically be shared with the rest of the world. This will result in excessive bandwidth usage and may allow copyright violations to be identified. Excessive bandwidth usage and copyright violations are breaches of the Guidelines for the Use of Technology Resources at UNK.

Consequences for misusing University Computers

UNK strongly recommends the removal of p2p applications from computers on our network. If you do not remove p2p applications, shared folders will allow copyright violations to be identified. When UNK is notified that someone on the UNK network is distributing a copyrighted file, federal law requires us to take immediate action to prevent legal sanctions. Network access is terminated and disciplinary action by UNK is initiated. Students will be required to meet with the Assistant Vice President for Information Technology. Violations involving staff are forwarded to department heads and violations involving faculty are sent to the Dean of their college. A copyright holder may, in addition, pursue legal action against you.

UNK recommends obtaining music and movies from legal sources.