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Between 2004 and 2009, approximately 30 billion songs were downloaded illegally. Earlier this year, the U.S. Copyright Group targeted over 20,000 users for illegally downloading movies from file sharing sites. Experts estimate a $20 billion revenue loss resulting from movie piracy. (Revenue is used to pay everyone involved in making a movie, not just producers and actors.) In 2009, UB received more than 50 cease and desist notices alleging illegal file sharing by users on the UB network.

Illegal file sharing—piracy—happens and offenders are caught. Illegal file sharing occurs to two types of people: those doing it intentionally and those not.

  Am I Doing It?

It is possible for people to be sharing files without knowing about it. It can happen for a variety of reasons.

    • Your wireless network is unsecure and someone nearby uses your network when sharing files illegally.

FIX: Protect your wireless network. The best directions for setting up your wireless router would come with your router. This article provides the basic concepts of setting up a secure wireless. The key features of a secure wireless for a basic network are that it:

  • Uses encryption. This is not just setting a password but using the encryption settings in the router.

  • Has a strong password set to administer the router.

  • Has a unique SSID.

  • Is updated regularly for firmware updates.

  • You installed file sharing (P2P) software and it's configured to share files from your computer. You may have done this in a desperate attempt to watch an episode of Glee just that one time.

    FIX: Uninstall the software and check your computer for any movie and music files that you don't own. If you have a legitimate need for P2P software, check the software settings for which files and folders are being shared. The software's website should have a section to help you with this. If it does not, uninstall the software and use a more trustworthy option. The University of Chicago provides information for disabling file sharing.

  • Your computer has been hacked and is being used by a malicious user to share files. This could have happened through a virus infection or if you installed untrusted software.

    FIX: Uninstall all suspicious software. Install legitimate antivirus software and run a complete scan of your computer.

  I Am Doing It. So?

Assuming you realize what you are doing is illegal and you have chosen to continue doing it, perhaps you are not aware of what will happen when you are caught for doing it or maybe you think you won't be caught.

Some extreme cases involve individuals being fined $1.9 million and $675,000 for illegal music sharing. Closer to home, College Park students reported paying up to $4000 to settle copyright infringement cases. Starting in 2010, the US Copyright Group has launched an aggressive campaign on behalf of their clients with the intent of reducing movie piracy. Some reports indicate they've sued 50,000 users for downloading one movie illegally with some offenders paying a minimum of $1550 to settle.

Depending on the nature of the infringement, those charged with illegal file sharing could face civil and criminal charges. Fines range from $750 per item infringed for a civil case to as high as a criminal fine of $250,000 and jail time.

What OTS Does

Almost all illegal file sharing on UB's network is committed by students (or someone using the student's UB account). The following actions are taken by OTS:

First infraction:

  • The Digital Media Copyright Act (DMCA) notice is sent to the student’s email account requesting the student cease and desist from illegal file sharing. Links to our Acceptable Use Policy and Judicial Policy are included.

  • Notice informs student of action taken on repeat offenses.

Second infraction:

  • Dean of Students is informed of the student’s actions and failure to comply with University policy.

  • Wireless access is blocked for student until meeting with the Dean of Students.

  • Student is sent letter by Dean of Students requesting immediate compliance and informing student that next infraction will result in judicial board review.

Third infraction:

  • Dean of Students is informed of the student’s actions and failure to comply with University policy.

  • Wireless access is blocked for student.

  • Student case goes to the judicial board for review with the possibility of University account privileges removed based on the judicial board decision.

Actions that may be taken by the Dean of Students are available in the Student Handbook.

Last Published 6/17/15