January 19, 2011


SUBJECT:    File Sharing and Copyright Violations

Copyright violation notices related to file sharing are on the rise. For the past two academic years, approximately 400 copyright violation notices per year were sent to students. During Fall 2010 alone, UCSD received close to 350 notices, almost a 200% increase.

Common myths about file sharing and copyright law:

* You can only get caught if you download the whole file.

* If you only download a few files, you won't get a copyright violation.

* You won't get sued for a copyright violation without first getting a Cease and Desist notice.

* You have to download files to get a copyright notice.

* You can't get a copyright notice if you own all the media files on your computer.

* If the material isn't available in the US, it is not copyright protected.

The risks involved with using file sharing programs (BitTorrent, Limewire, eDonkey, etc) inappropriately and file sharing copyrighted material without the express permission of the copyright holder include:

MALWARE (malicious software): Hundreds of students each year unknowingly download infected files. Malware disguised as media and legitimate software is designed to steal your personal information, including usernames and passwords for bank accounts and credit card numbers.

COPYRIGHT VIOLATION NOTICES: Most notices are fairly straightforward "Cease and Desist" notices, but still involve getting any network devices temporarily blocked (often at the most inopportune time) and having to attend a presentation on File Sharing and Copyright Violations. Repeat violations result in notes on your school record and disciplinary measures from your college Dean's office. Each notice carries with it the potential for a lawsuit. Over 100 UCSD students have been sued for copyright violations, some for the first time they shared a copyrighted file. Even early settlements cost thousands of dollars and involve a substantial time investment.

For the latest information on copyright law, the university's policies related to copyright law, peer to peer file sharing software, the risks of illegal file sharing, and legal alternatives, please visit our website:

If you are trying to get the latest songs, movies, anime, software or other copyrighted material for *free,* beware. What you think is free may end up costing you thousands of dollars.

Please feel free to contact the ACMS Help Desk ( with questions or concerns regarding copyright law, safe computing practices, and university policies concerning illegal file sharing. We are here to help.

Jeff Henry
Academic Computing and Media Services