Open letter from Chancellor James Oblinger: Liability for illegal file sharing

March 15, 2007
TO: NC State Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM: James L. Oblinger, Chancellor
Larry A. Nielsen, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Charles Leffler, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Business
SUBJECT: Open Letter on illegal file sharing

This open letter is to alert students and employees of the personal risks involved with unauthorized file sharing of copyrighted materials. Copyright holders, such as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), are more aggressively initiating legal actions against individuals engaged in illegal peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing. RIAA recently targeted 37 people at NC State for alleged legal action based on unlawful music file sharing.

Anyone at NC State who downloads, copies or distributes music recordings, videos, photos, or other copyrighted content is at risk for criminal prosecution and civil litigation, which may result in prison time or severe fines. Additionally, students risk misconduct sanctions, and faculty and staff risk employment discipline.

Some examples of file sharing software are LimeWire, KaZaA, BitTorrent, Gnutella, iMesh, CuteMX, Scour and FreeNetfile. While file sharing software may itself be lawful, there is usually a copyright on the music, video, or other files being shared. The file sharing is a violation of copyright law unless the copyright owner gives explicit permission. File sharing also creates substantial risk that others will gain access to confidential data on your computer, or will plant destructive viruses in your computer.

You may believe that illegal file sharing will not be noticed, but you are wrong. The RIAA and other copyright holders use automated methods to identify infringements, and even small amounts of sharing can be detected. NC State University, in compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), takes quick action when notified of alleged copyright infringements occurring from a computer connected to the campus network. Incidents are referred to appropriate campus officials, and steps are taken to stop unauthorized downloading or distribution of copyrighted materials.

For more information, see www.ncsu.edu/copyright. For assistance with removing peer-to-peer file sharing applications and copyright infringing materials, contact your departmental computer support professionals or e-mail help@ncsu.edu.