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Peer-to-Peer File Sharing and Copyright Infringement

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing networks use end-user computers for both clients and servers and are commonly used to share electronic media. P2P networks are often used to illegally download and distribute copyrighted material, including music, movies, software and games. P2P networks are also used to distribute malicious software like viruses, worms and spyware. Examples of P2P programs are Limewire, Frostwire, Kazaa Lite, Gnutella, and BitTorrent.

By installing P2P file-sharing software you open your files to millions of other users, even if you didn't mean to! With P2P networks, students who lawfully purchase music and movies online can easily find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Illegally Sharing Music and Movies is a Crime!

There are many risks associated with using P2P file sharing networks, including severe criminal and civil penalties from exposure to copyright law infringement. Even sharing movies and music with friends is considered a criminal act.

Criminal penalties for first-time offenders can be as high as 5 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Individuals who illegally reproduce or distribute copyrighted material may face criminal prosecution even if there is no monetary gain or commercial benefit.

Civil penalties have minimum statutory damages of $750 per song or movie. Statutory fines may be assessed without the copyright holder proving actual damages of the copyright infringing activity. Fines for willful cases of infringement can be as high as $150,000 for each copyrighted work.

Students who illegally copy or distribute copyrighted material or use P2P file sharing networks on campus may lose computer and network privileges for up to 45 days, and in some cases privileges may be lost indefinitely.

How to Protect Yourself

Colorado Mesa University recommends that users take every precaution before making the decision to install or use P2P software on any computer. Please read carefully all installation documentation and agreements associated with the software you choose to install. Remember, downloading or distributing copyrighted material through the use of P2P networking is prohibited on the University network at all times.

Looking for Legal Sources of Music & Movies?

There are a number of sources for online media. The following organizations provide in-depth information pertaining to copyright law and maintain lists of legal sources of music, movies and TV shows.

Recording Industry Association of America (

Motion Picture Association of America (