Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Regulation

University Policy: 

I. Introduction  

Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing applications allow users to download and share electronic files of all types and to use any computer as a server for file sharing requests. Currently, some of the more common files shared in this fashion are audio files (e.g., mp3, wav, midi), video files (e.g., QuickTime, jpeg, mpeg, avi), and picture files (e.g., gif, jpeg). Programs such as KaZaA, Gnutella, and others configure computers to serve the files that are downloaded.  

Because there are legitimate academic, research, and personal uses of P2P file sharing applications, UNC Charlotte does not ban them from its network. However, the University recognizes that most P2P activity consists of copying music and video files for personal enjoyment, often violating Copyright law and/or using a disproportionate amount of network resources. Therefore, before participating in any P2P file sharing activity, users of University computing and electronic communication resources should ensure that such activity is in compliance with this Regulation and other related University policies.  

II. File Sharing Risks  

A. Copyright  

While the University recognizes that there are legal and legitimate academic, research, and personal uses of P2P applications, many people use P2P file sharing to distribute copyrighted files without the permission of the copyright owner. Such use is illegal and subjects the user to personal liability in copyright infringement claims. Copyrighted works in such files should not be stored, transmitted, or used on University owned computers or servers without explicit permission of the copyright holder.  

B. Bandwidth and Network Resources  

The University provides shared computing and electronic communication resources for faculty, staff, and students. The use of P2P applications, in many cases for personal enjoyment, often comprises a disproportionate consumption of those shared resources. The result is that other network activities, such as academic research and file transfers, may be severely compromised as direct result of P2P activity.  

C. Security  

P2P applications can copy files from unknown sources to the user’s computer, making the user’s computer vulnerable to hacking and computer viruses, and putting the user’s personal and private data at risk.  

III. Regulation  

Use of P2P applications in violation of the law, University policies, or in ways that interfere with the University’s network integrity or security is prohibited. Use of P2P applications for legitimate academic or research purposes, or for a personal purpose that does not violate the law or University policy, is permitted and, when possible, should be communicated to Information & Technology Services (ITS). Such communication will help to ensure that ITS security measures employed to control impermissible uses will not interfere with those consistent with University policies.  

IV. Related IT Policies  

All University-owned computers, servers, and networks are to be used in a manner consistent with this Regulation, as well as University Policy 307, Responsible Use of University Computing and Electronic Communication Resources, University Policy 303, Network Security, and University Policy 315, Copyright Policy and other applicable University policies.  

V. Enforcement  

Upon discovery of an apparent violation of this Regulation, ITS will notify the user and require that the user immediately cease the prohibited activity and delete files that violate copyright law. Failure of the user to comply with this notification immediately or to otherwise provide ITS with evidence that the use is for legitimate academic or research purposes, or is for a legitimate personal purpose that does not violate the law or University policy, may result in the immediate disconnection of the offending device from the University’s computing network. Furthermore, violation of this Regulation may result in disciplinary action under appropriate University disciplinary procedures, including termination of a user’s University computing account.


Revision History: 

 (Initially approved August 2, 2004)