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File sharing communities, or peer to peer (P2P), networks such as Napster, KaZaa, Imesh, Gnutella, Aimster and many others have become increasily popular. While there is the potential for legitimate use, most traffic is trading in pirated music or motion pictures. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) have begun to target users of these applications with civil and criminal penalties, sometimes with fines up to $25,000. While not as public as the RIAA and MPAA activity, The Business Software Alliance provides a similar function for software vendors.

Many file sharing programs also open up back doors on your computer allowing other users to control your machine, placing unauthorized files or causing other problems. You are responsible for all actions of your computer, whether it is caused by you directly, or my someone highjacking your computer.

Sharing copyrighted material is theft, and copyright owners can and do seek civil and criminal penalities. They are searching for violators, even students. Do not think that you are a small fish and they are not worried about you. Many others have mistakenly thought the same thing. If Marist receives a valid subpoena asking for your identity, we will be required to release that information to them. Protect yourself and remove all file sharing programs.

Marist has implemented technology to reduce potential copyright violations, but it cannot prohibit it. Do not assume that if something works, or that you pay for it, that it is legal.

Resources with legal online content can be found on the Legal Sources of Online Content page.

Additional information about Copyright may be found below in the Copyright Information section