Copyright infringement is the act of violating the exclusive rights
of a copyright owner. Examples include copying or performing a work
without the copyright owner's permission, or creating a work of one's
own that derives from a copyrighted work.
File sharing is a general term for sharing digital files electronically.
These files could be music or other audio recordings, movies,
television shows, games or other computer software, or any other type of
Sharing any file of a work that you did not create yourself as an
original work, that is not in the public domain, and for which you do
not have permission to share, is a crime and can have serious consequences.
Sharing in this context includes everything from sharing a multitude
of files over peer-to-peer networks to copying a single work for a
Peer-to-peer (P2P) is a method of file sharing that allows normal users
("peers") to connect directly to other users to share files. This can
be contrasted with a server-based distribution method, where users
connect to a server (such as a web server via their web browser) to
P2P typically requires a "client" - a software program installed on
their personal computer - to share files. Examples of clients are
Kazaa, Limewire, BearShare, etc. and the various BitTorrent clients.
These clients connect to other clients over the Internet and allow users
to send files that they have marked as "shared" to other users, as well
as to download copies of files that other users have shared.
Because of its decentralized and unregulated nature, peer-to-peer
filesharing is often used to share copyrighted works that those sharing
the works do not have the right to share. However, it is important to
remember that peer-to-peer is not anonymous, not secret, and can be unsafe.
As you may be aware, in 2007 the University of Tennessee received
several letters from the Recording Industry Association of America
(RIAA) stating their intent to bring lawsuits against students they
believe have potentially infringed copyright. In addition, on April 29,
2008 the Tennessee government passed a bill to amend Tennessee Code,
Title 49, Chapter 7, relative to copyright infringement. See Tennessee Senate Bill 3974 for the text of the bill.
Part of this bill requires the University to "reasonably attempt to
prevent the infringement of copyrighted works over the institution's
computer and network resources, if such institution receives fifty (50)
or more legally valid notices of infringement as prescribed by the
Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 within the preceding year."
Therefore, to comply with this bill, the University started
blocking Peer-to-Peer (P2P) traffic on the University network on
August 1st, 2008. After this date, all peer-to-peer clients listed
above and others like them have been blocked from running on the UT
Knoxville network. For a list of all blocked traffic, see Blocked Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Applications. If you are a staff or faculty member and need access to a P2P application to perform your official duties, please email an exemption request to P2Prequest@utk.edu.
Using peer-to-peer software is a risky venture. Installing peer-to-peer
software can expose your computer to attack, and using P2P software to
share copyrighted works violates UT's Acceptable Use Policy and various copyright laws, all of which have serious consequences.
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