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Unauthorized Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

Policy Background and Purpose

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). When computers are set up in a peer-to-peer model, the computers become connected as peers, and files on each system are subject to access by the other systems. When a University computer is set up for peer-to-peer operations with an outside computer, the University computer is sharing its files, and in some cases its entire hard drive. In most cases, the same computer has also agreed to accept files from an outside computer. Conversely, the outside system could copy individual files from the University computer's shared drive, to the outside server, resulting in the potential for inadvertent disclosure of sensitive information.

Because there are legitimate academic, research, and personal uses of P2P file sharing applications, Miami University does not ban them from its network. However, Miami recognizes that P2P activity is commonly used for copying music and video files for personal enjoyment which may violate copyright law and that content which does not infringe copyright is typically available through other methods, such as websites and FTP sites. Accordingly, Miami actively blocks all P2P traffic from crossing its network perimeter. If a user has a legitimate need to use P2P software, authorization will need to be obtained from Miami University’s Information Security Officer. Before requesting authorization to participate in any P2P file sharing activity, users of University computing and electronic communication resources should consider the following:

  • Network Bandwidth
    Most P2P applications are configured so other users can access your hard drive and share your files all the time. This constant file transfer can degrade your computer’s performance and generate heavy traffic loads on the university network.

    The university's network bandwidth consumption is monitored. If your usage impacts the overall performance of the network, your computer may be blocked.

    If you use a P2P application to share content legally, you should know how to control or disable the application.
  • Privacy
    If you are running a P2P application, you may be inadvertently sharing personal information, such as e-mail messages or credit card information. You need to make sure you know which files and data the application is sharing. You should know how to control or disable your P2P application to ensure that you are not inadvertently sharing personal information.
  • Security
    Viruses are easily spread using P2P applications. Many P2P applications include “malware” in the download, so you may be unintentionally infecting your computer. To protect your computer, keep your anti-virus program up-to-date and only install programs acquired from reputable sources.
  • Resource Use
    Some P2P applications use your computer as a computational or storage resource for another organization’s use. This may not be an acceptable use of state-owned resources such as the university network or university-owned computers. Do not permit any such use of your system without the consent of Miami University’s Information Security Officer.

Prohibition

The use of a P2P application which (1) constitutes a violation of any federal, state or local law, (2) constitutes a violation of University policies (including the Responsible Use Policy and the Code of Student Conduct), or (3) interferes with Miami University’s network integrity or security is prohibited.

Enforcement

As an internet service provider, Miami University follows appropriate enforcement procedures required by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Upon discovery of an apparent violation of this policy by a student, the Information Security Officer will notify the Dean of Students. The Dean of Students shall notify the user and require that the user immediately cease the prohibited activity and delete files that violate this policy. In addition to stopping potential legal violations, the Dean of Student's goal is to educate the student about appropriate P2P use and personal and social responsibility as a P2P user within the learning community. In the event that a user fails to comply with the Dean of Students’ directive or if the same user violates this policy one or more additional times in the same academic year, then the Dean of Students may initiate appropriate disciplinary action against the student.

Upon discovery of an apparent violation of this policy by an employee, then the Information Security Officer will notify the user to immediately cease the prohibited activity and delete all files that violate this policy. In the event that a user fails to comply with the Information Security Officer’s notice or violates this policy one or more additional times, the Information Security Officer will refer the matter to the Department of Human Resources or Academic Personnel Services for appropriate action.

In addition, if a user violates the copyright laws through unauthorized P2P activities, the user may be found liable for civil or criminal copyright infringement. Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505. Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

Review

The Dean of Students and the Information Security Officer shall periodically (1) review the effectiveness of this policy; and (2) review the legal alternatives for downloading or otherwise acquiring copyrighted material and make the results of the review available to its students through a Web site or other means.

Locations
Luxembourg
West Chester
Middletown
Hamilton
Oxford
  • Luxembourg
    Luxembourg

    John E. Dolibois European Center, Luxembourg

    One of Miami's oldest continuous study abroad programs, the Miami University John E. Dolibois Center (MUDEC) in Luxembourg offers students the opportunity to enroll in Miami classes taught by European-based and Ohio-based Miami faculty. Students enjoy a unique combination of first-class academics, engagement in the local community, and various faculty-guided and independent travel opportunities.

    Contact and emergency information for the Luxembourg Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    Château de Differdange
    1, Impasse du Château
    L-4524 Differdange
    Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
    luxembourg@MiamiOH.edu
    MiamiOH.edu/luxembourg

    217-222 MacMillan Hall
    531 E. Spring Street
    Oxford, Ohio 45056, USA

    Directions

    Main Operator: 011-352-582222-1
    Oxford-based Coordinator: 513-529-5050
    Emergency info: MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • West Chester
    West Chester

    Voice of America Learning Center

    Located midway between Cincinnati and Dayton along I-75, the Voice of America Learning Center (VOALC) offers undergraduate and graduate courses and programs drawn from Miami's Regional and Oxford campuses. Home to Miami's MBA program, the Learning Center provides ready access to graduate programs for area educators and courses leading to the BIS degree for undergraduates.

    Contact and emergency information for the Voice of America Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    7847 VOA Park Dr.
    (Corner of VOA Park Dr. and Cox Rd.)
    West Chester, OH 45069
     
    voalc@MiamiOH.edu
    MiamiOH.edu/voalc

    Printable Floor Plan
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-895-8862
    (From Middletown) 513-217-8862
    Emergency info: regionals.MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • Middletown
    Middletown

    Middletown Regional Campus

    Nestled on 141 acres near I-75, Miami University Middletown offers bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, and beginning coursework for most four-year degrees. Nearby Greentree Health Science Academy immerses Miami's nursing and health information technology students in the health care experience while taking classes.

    Contact and emergency information for the Middletown Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

     4200 N. University Blvd.
    Middletown, OH 45042
    regionalwebmaster@MiamiOH.edu
    regionals.MiamiOH.edu

    Printable Campus Map
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-727-3200
    (Toll-free) 1-86-MIAMI-MID
    Office of Admission: 513-727-3216
    Campus Status Line: 513-727-3477
    Emergency info: regionals.MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • Hamilton
    Hamilton

    Hamilton Regional Campus

    A compact, friendly, commuter campus, Miami Hamilton offers bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, and beginning coursework for most four-year degrees. Small class sizes, on-site child care, and flexible scheduling make Miami Hamilton attractive to students at all stages of life and career.

    Contact and emergency information for the Hamilton Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    1601 University Blvd.
    Hamilton, OH 45011
    regionalwebmaster@MiamiOH.edu
    regionals.MiamiOH.edu

    Printable Campus Map
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-785-3000
    Office of Admission: 513-785-3111
    Campus Status Line: 513-785-3077
    Emergency info: regionals.MiamiOH.edu/emergency

  • Oxford
    Oxford

    Miami University, Oxford Ohio

    Nationally recognized as one of the most outstanding undergraduate institutions, Miami University is a public university located in Oxford, Ohio. With a student body of 16,000, Miami effectively combines a wide range of strong academic programs with faculty who love to teach and the personal attention ordinarily found only at much smaller institutions.

    Contact and emergency information for the Oxford Campus. Starting with general contact info on the left; additional contact and emergency information on the right.

    501 E. High St.
    Oxford, OH 45056

    Printable Campus Map
    Directions

    Main Operator: 513-529-1809
    Office of Admission: 513-529-2531
    Vine Hotline: 513-529-6400
    Emergency info: MiamiOH.edu/emergency