• Hartwick students studying rock formations
  • Yager Bell Tower, Hartwick College
  • Dewar Union, Hartwick College
  • Hartwick students working on a project in class.

Sharing Copyrighted Materials

The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) have been making news lately with lawsuits concerning copyright infringement. Given the popularity of programs like LimeWire, Morpheus, Kazaa, Grokster and other peer-to-peer programs, it is easy to get caught up in the file-sharing frenzy and lose sight of the bigger picture.

Sharing copyrighted materials on Hartwick's campus is not only a violation of the College's Responsible Use of Technology Policy, but it is also illegal! If the College receives a complaint that your computer is involved with downloading copyrighted materials, IT, Student Life, and Campus Safety are compelled to act upon that complaint. Then the following can occur:

  1. FINES: If legal action is taken, the offender can face some stiff fines--the RIAA has requested fines of $150,000 for each illegal recording found on a user's computer.
  2. INCONVENIENCE: If we find that your computer is offering copyrighted materials illegally, you will be asked to bring your computer to the Technology Services Center. If you do not do so in a timely manner, you risk revocation of e-mail and Internet access and/or confiscation of your computer. Once verified, your computer will be re-imaged. This means that all files except MY DOCUMENTS are deleted from your computer, and your computer is put back to the original Hartwick software configuration. Only personal documents found in MY DOCUMENTS will be restored back to the computer. Your computer will not be returned until this process has been completed.
  3. POSSIBLE LOSS OF FILES AND PROGRAMS: Since any installed personal software will be deleted as part of the re-image process, it is the owner's responsibility to re-install personal software. Whenever this occurs, there is a possibility of loss of files or programs.
  4. DISCIPLINARY ACTION: Since this is a violation of College policies, Student Life is notified for further disciplinary action. The RIAA or MPAA will also be notified that we have found the source of the illegal copyrighted materials and have carried out our legal responsibilities to remove the material from our network. While we do not provide the person's name at this point, the recent direction of court cases indicates that the College could be compelled to do so in the future.
  5. REVOCATION OF E-MAIL/INTERNET ACCESS: Violations of College policies can result in the revocation of e-mail and Internet access privileges.

Given the consequences above, is it worth the risk for a few free songs or movies? If you use peer-to-peer programs on your computer, it is strongly recommended that you remove these programs and any illegal files. If you need help doing this, please contact the Technology Resource Center at x4357.

Other Reasons to Avoid Peer-to-Peer Programs

There are additional reasons to avoid peer-to-peer programs. Does your computer exhibit the following symptoms?

  1. It seems sluggish when opening programs and files.
  2. Advertisements pop up all the time.
  3. Your hard drive activity light flashes even when you are not using the system.
  4. Your browser's homepage has been changed without your knowledge, and it now redirects you to another webpage.
  5. New toolbars in your browser show up for software that you did not install.
  6. Your Internet browser crashes with errors.

When you start downloading software from the Internet, you may get more than you bargained for. Spyware and adware software come along for the ride with some of these programs. Spyware will track your surfing behavior to create a marketing profile of you that will be sold to advertising companies. Adware is the software that gives you those annoying pop-up ads. If you see any of the symptoms above, you probably have spyware on your computer. But even if you don't see anything, you may still be infected, because there could be spyware that is silently tracking, collecting, and then sending your surfing behavior to advertising companies--extracted from the spybot's webpage.