Illegal FIle Sharing

File Sharing Resources

NU Policies & Guidelines:

Technical Support:

External Links & Resources:

What is Illegal File Sharing?

Illegal file sharing is the practice of using a peer-to-peer (P2P) application (such as Torrent applications & LimeWire) to download a copyrighted resource (such as music, videos, movies, TV shows, videogames, software package, books, or anything else) or make such resources available to others without the permission of the copyright holder (and generally for free). File sharing is prohibited by federal law, specifically the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Copyright holders have invested a large amount of resources to detect and respond to illegal file sharing, especially on college campuses. If they detect a user on the Northwestern network engaged in file sharing, they send a complaint to Northwestern University, and the DMCA requires the University to take prompt, remedial action. From Fall '07 through Summer '10, Northwestern received over 900 complaints alleging that NU students had engaged in file sharing.

What are the Possible Implications of File Sharing?

Downloading or sharing copyrighted files - including music, television, movies, video games, software, and books - without authorization is contrary to University policy, is prohibited by law, and violates the rights of artists, the companies that represent them, and others. It may also interfere with legitimate uses of the University's computer resources, result in computer viruses, and jeopardize the security of the personal or confidential information stored on your computer or the University network.

Legally, a person who engages in illegal file sharing can be sued for money and can also face federal criminal charges. Northwestern students have been targeted for legal action by copyright holders and had to pay thousands of dollars to resolve their claims.

Here at Northwestern, an individual who engages in illegal file sharing will have their network/internet access restricted and are subject to formal disciplinary action, up to and including removal from the institution. Students have faced suspension for engaging in file sharing, especially when the conduct is repeated. This could, in turn, affect a student's ability to study abroad, be selected for certain campus leadership positions, applications for graduate school, and even employment opportunities. Additionally, student employees or researchers who engage in illegal file sharing in the scope of their campus appointments could face employment or other adverse actions.

How Can I Make Sure I'm Not File Sharing?

First, we highly suggest removing all P2P applications from your personal computers, particularly since many of these (like Torrents, LimeWire, and Ares) may share or allow others to access files on your computer, even if you may not be explicitly aware of it. If you need help disabling or removing the software from your computer, please contact the NUIT Support Center at either 847-491-HELP or visit them at 1800 Sherman Ave. NUIT also has a Laptop ER providing additional technical support for laptop users.

Second, please pay close attention to any BAYU notices from Northwestern. BAYU (Be Aware You're Uploading) notifies users via e-mail when it appears they are engaged in file sharing. If you get one of these e-mails, please take prompt action to make sure you are not engaged in illegal file sharing. (BAYU notices, however, are not tracked by NUIT and do not result in any disciplinary action; they are purely for notification.)

Finally, use legal options to obtain the content you want. EDUCAUSE provides a great list of legal downloading options where students can obtain copyrighted material like music, movies, TV shows, and games.

Where Can I Find Additional Information?

Links to additional resources related to file sharing from Northwestern and external sources can be found in the box on the right side of the screen. You may also contact our office or NUIT Information Security.