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Popular file sharing applications can be used to transmit viruses and malicious software. eight-bit sparty

File Sharing and Copyright

Illegal file sharing involves pirating and sharing copyrighted files, like music, movies, and software, without owning the copyright or license to do so.

Copying and sharing files are popular ways hackers can transmit viruses and other malicious software to your computer or mobile device.

Read what to do if you receive a DMCA complaint from MSU.

To know...

You may be unknowingly sharing files if you have file sharing software installed on your computer.

  • Peer-to-peer software often installs spyware that reports on your computer usage, delivers advertising and other unsolicited files, or allows others to tap into your computer for personal and confidential information often without your knowledge.
  • When you put music, movies, video games, or other software on your computer without a license or other permission, it's considered theft by copyright holders and federal courts.

When MSU receives Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaints from copyright holders, it is required by the DMCA to remove or disable access to the infringing material.

  • Copyright holders and trade associations representing copyright holders scan the MSU network to identify the transfer of pirated files containing copyrighted materials.
  • When outside organizations identify the IP address involved in the transfer, they send a DMCA takedown notice to the student's Internet service provider, in this case Michigan State University.
  • To comply, MSU notifies students involved in DMCA complaints and disables network access to devices which held the IP address at the time of the infringement.

To do...

Protect yourself from DMCA risks by uninstalling file sharing programs.

  1. Go to your computer's "Control Panel" and then the menu item "Add and Remove Programs."
  2. Some file sharing programs can reinstall themselves without your knowledge, so reformat your computer to prevent this from happening.
  3. Use MSU Computer Store -- Help and Repair in room 120 of the Computer Center as a resource.

Use legal alternatives like:

Keep your computer, mobile devices, and Internet connections safe and secured.

  • Be cautious about lending your computer or devices to others.
  • Make sure your computer and devices are physically secured.
  • Use a secure Wi-Fi connection when in public places (the library, a coffee shop, etc.), as well as in your residence hall room or apartment.
  • Make sure your computer, mobile devices, and wireless connection are password protected. You're responsible for whatever is done using your registered Internet connection, including any pirated file activity.

If caught...

  • Copyright infringers may face semester suspension, permanent loss of access to the MSU network, and probation for the remainder of their time at MSU.
  • A first-level DMCA complaint the responsible individual will be notified via email.
  • A second-level DMCA complaint involves a $50 processing fee and an appointment with the MSU DMCA Processing Office regarding the illegal file sharing activity.
  • A third-level DMCA complaint involves a $75 processing fee and is passed along to MSU Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution through the Department of Student Life for disciplinary action. Network access remains blocked until the complaint is resolved with MSU Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution.

Pirating copyrighted files is a felony with legal risks that can include injunctions, damages, court costs, and possible criminal sanctions in U.S. courts. (More information ia available from the United States Copyright Office.)

Separate lawsuits may be files by copyright owners stemming from the original DMCA complaints. Lawsuits may be filed in civil or criminal U.S. courts and settlements can range from $3,000 to $35,000 in addition to attorney fees and court costs.

Criminal penalties may also be brought against copyright infringers, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense based on decisions in U.S. courts.