Iowa State University

ITInformation Technology

File Sharing & Copyrighted Materials

File sharing is the practice of distributing or providing access to digitally stored information, such as computer programs, multimedia (audio, video) files, documents, or electronic books. File sharing is not always illegal, but many people share files in a way that infringes on the legal rights of copyright holders.

This page provides a reference for file sharing and copyright policies and resources at Iowa State University, including the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) and your rights and responsibilities.

File Sharing & Copyright

ISU Policies on the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA)

  • Iowa State University's DMCA Statement
  • ISU Judicial Affairs DMCA Compliance and Violations
  • ISU Plan to Comply with HEOA [PDF]
  • The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, U.S. Copyright Office Summary [PDF]

Legal Alternatives for Downloading Digital Content

Educause lists legal downloading and streaming sites. Some are free, while others offer a free trial period, a modest subscription rate, or a charge per song, CD, or movie. Examples include Apple iTunes, Amazon MP3, Hulu, Netflix, and media outlets (like NBC or Fox).

The Risks of File Sharing and Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Networks

Illegal use of copyrighted files and information can result in disciplinary action and loss of access to the campus network, and civil or criminal liability for violation of copyright law, including expensive court costs and fines. File sharing and P2P may open your computer to serious security risks, because downloaded files can contain spyware, Trojans, and viruses that can spread to other computers at ISU and open your information to identity theft via password and information recording.

When you are using a P2P network, every other user around the world has the ability to access your hard drive. Many people are surprised to learn they can be held responsible even if they didn't intend to distribute files. When you registered as a P2P software user, you probably agreed to let the network use your computer as a source of music, movie, and other files. This makes you a potential illegal distributor, whether you meant to be or not.

What happens to students who have uploaded or downloaded illegally?

When ISU receives a complaint from a copyright holder, the university will determine the registered user of the machine connected to the identified IP address at the time of the incident. If that user is a student, the identification information and the complaint are sent to Judicial Affairs in the Dean of Students Office, which will work with the student to resolve the issue. Repeated offenses may result in disciplinary action and loss of access to the campus network and Internet.

Be Aware You are Uploading (BAYU) is an automated ISU email service that notifies campus network users when BAYU detects traffic from a computer that indicates uploading is taking place. This is an educational rather than enforcement tool to let users know about uploading risks and policies.