What special rules apply to peer-to-peer file sharing?

Starting in 2003, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) filed civil suits against students at several universities seeking damages from them for copyright infringement resulting from peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing. In addition, the RIAA has placed increasing pressure on institutions of higher learning to take action against copyright violations attributable to such conduct. Some uses of the P2P technologies are perfectly legitimate, but conduct such as copying and sharing of music files without the authorization of the copyright owner, for example, is not. For more information about the application of copyright law to these types of activities, see the website of Dartmouth College.

Pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the college has designated an agent to receive notices of copyright infringement from copyright owners. If the college receives notification from a copyright owner that you have engaged in infringing activity, such as P2P file sharing, it will investigate such complaint, and, if appropriate, notify you to take down the offending material and cease from engaging in such conduct. In addition, if you violate copyright law by engaging in unauthorized file sharing, you may be subject to discipline under the college’s copyright policy, Computer Use Policy and other applicable policies. Violations of copyright law may also subject you to civil and criminal prosecution.