Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Advisory

September 2014
Dear Bates colleagues,

This is an annual reminder that copyright owners of music, movies and other materials may pursue people who illegally share files, including using lawsuits and subpoenas. As the college’s registered copyright agent, I receive many complaints from copyright holders who have evidence that their movies, games, music, or other media are being distributed by Bates people without permission.

In the strongest possible terms the College reminds you of your responsibility to avoid sharing movies, music, videos, games or other media with anyone unless you have received explicit permission to distribute the material.

If you are using a peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing program such as BitTorrent to share copyrighted material without permission you are exposing yourself to great risk. You are also consuming large amounts of the college’s Internet bandwidth, which may affect the performance of your computer in doing your own work, and may also impede the work of others. You should remove file sharing applications from your computer and limit your use to legitimate sharing of data.

There are many ways to legally acquire music. For a list of some of these sources, see:

  • If you are sharing copyrighted materials without permission, you are breaking Federal law, violating college policy and exposing yourself to considerable risk.
  • You are not anonymous on the Internet, and you may not be aware that your computer is sharing files. Computers can be identified by Internet address. Copyright owners can detect file sharing.
  • The potential risks are very large. Penalties could be up to $150,000 per file. College students have settled copyright lawsuits for thousands of dollars each. In May 2009, the District Court in Maine decided that a user had to pay record companies minimum damages ($6,750 plus court costs) for illegally sharing nine songs. In some cases there could be criminal charges as well.
  • Placing copies of digital materials in publicly shared directories on the campus network could also result in legal action against you unless you own distribution rights for those materials.
  • Some file sharing is perfectly legitimate. Some artists make their recordings available over the Internet without restriction. Services exist that allow you to download or stream music fir a monthly or per-song fee. If you are sharing materials for educational purposes in class, ILS staff can help you share materials under “fair use” or comply with restrictions imposed by the copyright owner.
  • You are personally responsible for your compliance with copyright law. The college cannot take responsibility for your compliance, and cannot defend you against a claim by a copyright owner. If Bates officials receive a complaint about your behavior, we are required to take action, which could include such steps as terminating your network connection or providing your name to the copyright owner.

You should take the appropriate steps to protect yourself from what may be very unfortunate consequences. We have posted answers to some of the most frequent questions we have received at:

Questions about copyright compliance or file sharing should be directed to me.

Gene Wiemers
Vice President for Information and Library Services and Librarian
The George and Helen Ladd Library
48 Campus Avenue, Lewiston, Maine 04240
Phone: 207-786-6260 Fax: 207-786-6055