The purpose of this policy is to prohibit the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing applications by all computers connected to the MacMurray College network. The primary purpose of this policy is to educate and set expectations for the users of the Campus network of their individual and corporate responsibilities towards the use of P2P applications on the Campus network directly.
This policy addresses the issues, impacts and concerns with file sharing aspects of P2P applications using the Campus network. This policy applies to all computers that are connected to MacMurray College’s network. This includes, but is not limited to, desktop computers, laptop computers, file/ftp/tftp/proxy servers, and any lab-based equipment.
A peer-to-peer computer network refers to any network that does not have fixed clients and servers but a number of peer nodes that function as both clients and servers to the other nodes on the network. Any node is able to initiate or complete any supported transaction. Peer nodes may differ in local configuration, processing speed, network bandwidth, and storage quantity. P2P computing is the sharing of computer resources and services by direct exchange between systems.
This policy intends to make it clear that P2P architecture itself is not in question. What is a concern, however, is one of the most prevalent uses of this technology: P2P file sharing applications used for the distribution of copyrighted content. File sharing applications such as eDonkey, KaZaA, and Gnutella are examples of the kinds of P2P file sharing software that can be used inappropriately to share copyrighted content. Along with copyright infringement, other concerns of P2P file sharing applications include network resource utilization, security, and inappropriate content.
Downloading or distributing copyrighted material, e.g. documents, music, movies, videos, text, etc., without permission from the rightful owner violates the United States Copyright Act and several MacMurray College policies.
Those who obtain or distribute copyrighted material should be aware that if found liable for copyright infringement, the penalties can be severe, depending upon the amount and the willfulness of the infringing activity. In a civil lawsuit, one found liable for copyright infringement can be ordered to pay damages of as much as $30,000 per copyrighted work infringed. This penalty can be increased to $150,000 per infringed work in cases of particularly flagrant infringement. In the most serious and widespread cases of copyright infringement, criminal prosecution is possible.
Additionally, students, faculty, and staff who may be in violation of copyright law place not only themselves at risk; they may be exposing MacMurray College to liability as an institution for contributory or vicarious infringement, e.g., using the Campus network resources to obtain the material and/or to store the material on college computers and/or servers.
Impact to MacMurray’s Network
Peer-to-peer file sharing applications typically allow a user to set up their computer so that other people can access specific files on their computer. This process, in effect, converts the user's computer into a server. A user's computer acting as a server can place an enormous burden on the network. Network performance can degrade significantly when P2P file-sharing applications are used, especially when large files are being downloaded.
P2P networks can introduce serious gaps in an otherwise secure network. Threats such as worms and viruses can easily be introduced into the network. P2P applications, if modified, can also allow users outside the college to gain access to data on the user’s computer or even the network. Some P2P applications will also allow third parties to see the user’s IP address. The installation of spyware is also common with many P2P applications.
Users of MacMurray College’s network may not use peer-to-peer file sharing programs, including, but not limited to, eDonkey, KaZaA, Gnutella, Morpheus, Audiogalaxy, WinMX and BitTorrent. For the purposes of this policy, a peer-to-peer file sharing application is any application that transforms a personal computer into a server that distributes data simultaneously to other computers. Please note that copyrighted materials cannot be shared by any means without proper permission. This includes sharing via network file shares, the web, or any other means and is not limited to peer-to-peer programs.
Uninstalling Peer-To-Peer Applications
If you have installed a peer-to-peer file sharing application on your computer that connects to the campus network, you must uninstall the software in order to access the network. In a very serious situation, the computer’s operating system may need to be completely reinstalled in order to remove all traces of the file sharing software as well as any malicious software that was installed alongside the peer-to-peer software.
If you need assistance, you can contact the Office of Information Technology at 217-479-7032.
Enforcement of Policy
Peer-to-peer software is banned on the college network. In order to completely register on the network, users will have to pass a security scan which will check to see if the machine has peer-to-peer software installed. If this software is found, the user will be required to completely uninstall the software (along with meeting other security criteria) in order to fully register on the campus network.
Any user who violates this policy will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination; disciplinary action can include but is not limited to having his/her computer censured or quarantined from the college’s network. Additionally, if found liable for copyright infringement, legal actions may be taken. MacMurray College will cooperate with any authority in determining liability.