File Sharing @ MSU
- MSU Guidelines and Copyright Resources
- Can copyright holders find out who I am and sue me?
- What if I want to contest the notice?
- Legal Media Alternatives
- Contact Us
What is digital and electronic copyright infringement?
Copying, using, downloading, uploading, sharing, or otherwise distributing copyrighted material (including, but not limited to, music, movies, books, articles, and computer software) without explicit permission of the copyright owner or agent or as allowed by OP 01.20 (Policy on Use of Copyrighted Works for Education and Research) is a violation of federal law and MSU policy.
"Illegal download" refers to the inappropriate electronic transfer of a copyrighted material from one computer to another across a network.
"Peer to Peer file sharing" means using a particular type of software designed to share electronic files or resources between two or more computers across a network.
Why is this issue important?
The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 34 CFR Section 668 requires universities which receive federal student aid funds to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material.
Under federal law first-time offenders who commit copyright violations can face criminal penalties of as much as five years in prison and/or $250,000 in fines; they may also be sued by the copyright holder in civil court, potentially resulting in additional monetary damages and legal fees. Also, MSU students, faculty, and staff are subject to University disciplinary policies and procedures.
What is MSU doing to combat digital and electronic copyright infringement?
Education and Deterrence
MSU has a comprehensive program of education and deterrence, key elements of which include:
- Information about digital and electronic copyright infringement which is shared with new students, faculty, and staff during orientation
- Sessions that focus on this issue during MSU’s annual Cybersecurity Awareness Week
- Guidelines for appropriate uses of copyrighted material in education and research as outlined in University policy OP 01.20
- Requirement that members of the University community annually acknowledge OP 01.12 (Use of Information Technology Resources), which covers digital and electronic copyright infringement
- Availability of legal download alternatives through sites such as those recommended by the RIAA and MPAA (http://www.riaa.com/ and http://www.mpaa.org/)
Detection and Remediation
The University also pursues an aggressive, proactive program of detection and remediation. Network activity is continually monitored for patterns of illegal or unacceptable downloading/file-sharing behavior.
When such activity is detected involving a student, the computer is isolated from the network through a process known as “Network Quarantine”, limiting further potentially illegal activity. For a first-time offense by a student, the computer is placed in Level 1 Network Quarantine, presenting the student with an explanatory message and allowing them to unilaterally remediate the problem and remove their computer from quarantine. In the case of repeated offenses by a student, the computer is placed in Level 2 Network Quarantine, requiring them to present themselves to the Dean of Students for counseling and potential disciplinary action. Assuming satisfactory resolution of the problem, the Dean of Students will authorize Information Technology Services (ITS) to remove the computer from quarantine.
When such activity is detected involving an employee, IT support personnel are dispatched to remediate the problem.
When organizations such as the RIAA and MPAA suspect copyright violations associated with the MSU campus network, a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice is sent to Information Technology Services. The DMCA notice identifies the date and time of the alleged violation, along with the network address of the computer involved.
In the case of students, ITS responds to these notices by placing the computer in Level 2 Network Quarantine as described above.
In the case of faculty, ITS responds by dispatching IT support personnel and notifying the unit head, the Provost’s Office, and the Head of ITS.
In the case of staff, ITS responds by dispatching IT support personnel and notifying the unit head, Human Resource Management, and the Head of ITS.
MSU employs a variety of technologies to detect and deter illegal file-sharing/downloading activities, including:
- Authenticated wireless network, giving the ability to identify individual users and computers involved in illegal or inappropriate activity
- Aggressive program of remediating problems identified by DMCA notices
- Continual analysis of network traffic, searching for tell-tale signatures of harmful activity or abnormal bandwidth consumption.
Review and Assessment
ITS collects statistics on DMCA notices received, along with Network Quarantine statistics. These data are analyzed to assess the efficacy of the University's plan to combat digital and electronic copyright infringement. Based upon this ongoing assessment, modifications to the plan or elements of the plan are made, as appropriate.