The campus data network is comprised of all of the wired and wireless services provided by the University which support learning, research, and administrative functions. The data network is accessible from all on-campus residential halls, offices and classrooms.
The UNC-Chapel Hill Data Network Acceptable Use Policy, or AUP for short, is a policy that identifies the standards by which all users (students, faculty and staff and other authorized guests) may use the shared UNC-Chapel Hill network. The AUP is intended to protect the security of the network so it can remain available to all users.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is a trade association of the American motion picture, home video and television industries. The MPAA serves as an advocate for strong protection of the creative works produced and distributed by the industry and fights copyright theft around the world.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade association of the U.S. recording industry (or its member record companies). The RIAA serves to foster a business and legal climate for its members through protection of intellectual property rights and the First Amendment rights of artists as well as through monitoring and reviewing state and federal laws, regulations and policies.
An online service provider (OSP) is an entity which offers the transmission, routing, or providing of connections for digital online communications. In simple terms, an OSP is a provider of online services or network access. UNC-Chapel Hill is considered an OSP.
Statutory damages are fines levied by a court which make up the amount of financial compensation that is paid to the owner of copyrighted material by a violator who is found guilty of unauthorized use of that owners’s intellectual property.

These terms are often used interchangeably to describe the act of violating copyright laws by downloading or distributing copyrighted materials without permission from the copyright owner.

  • File sharing is when you share (download or upload) electronic data files over a network connection, whether the network is secure or unsecure, public or private. File sharing is not illegal if you have permission from the copyright owner to share the files. It is illegal if you share copyrighted materials without permission from the copyright owner.
  • Copyright infringement occurs when you download or share copyrighted materials —including music, movies, games, and software —from the Internet without consent from the author.
  • Online piracy is the unauthorized use or reproduction of copyrighted or patented material. This term is often used to describe copies of movies, software or other media which are illegally copied and then sold overseas or on the black market.
  • Downloading occurs when you receive or accept data files from a remote server, system or Web site to your computer system. If the files you receive are copyrighted works and you do not have permission from the owner to obtain or use those files, you have accepted an illegal download.
  • Illegal uploading occurs when you send data files from your computer system to a remote server, system or Web site. If the files you send (or share) are copyrighted works and you do not have permission from the owner to distribute those files, you are illegally uploading.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) software allows “peers” (individual computer systems) to connect to each other over a network (the Internet) to share files. Examples of mainstream P2P software programs include uTorrent, Frostwire, Vuze, WinMX, BitTorrent, Bearshare, Deluge, Ares, and Bit Comet.
Sharing work or media through a peer-to-peer (P2P) network is legal if you own the copyright, thus you own the right to determine if and how that work is distributed. For example, you can write and produce an original song and make it available for others to download for free through a P2P file sharing program. However, it is illegal for you to download or share protected works without permission from the copyright owner.
Yes, you not only put your computer at risk by running P2P software, you put the entire UNC-Chapel Hill campus data network at risk. P2P software is designed to maintain an open door between your computer, the Internet and anyone who wants access to the files you have available to share. You make your computer vulnerable to viruses, and you provide criminals with an opportunity to use your computer to attack other machines on the network.

There are three groups of people who care if you download or share music.

  1. The authors and owners of copyrighted works care if you download and share their materials without their permission. Copyright laws were created to protect the rights of citizens who create original works of music, image, art and text files. Only the copyright owners have the right to determine who uses and distributes their works. Owners who feel you have infringed on their copyright can hold you accountable for your actions.
  2. The University cares if you download or share music because by doing so via peer-to-peer software, you make the campus data network vulnerable to viruses and online criminals. In addition, when you download using a program such as BitTorrent, you consume a large amount of bandwidth from the network. Finally, the University, as an online service provider which provides access to the campus data network, is subject to the regulations set forth in U.S. copyright law and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. These laws require the University to be responsible and hold users accountable for their actions when using the campus data network. Failure to adhere to the laws can tarnish the University’s reputation and possibly result in sanctions or a reduction in funding from the state legislature.
  3. You should care if you download or share music. You should care about protecting the rights of copyright owners because you may be a copyright owner some day. You should care about protecting the campus data network and your computer from threats. You should care about protecting the image of your University.
Sharing files (music, movies, documents, photographs, software, games, etc.) is legal if you own the copyright, thus you own the right to determine if and how those files are distributed. For example, you can write and produce an original song and make it available for others to download for free through a P2P file sharing program. However, it is illegal for you to share copyrighted files without permission from the copyright owner.
Safe Harbor is a provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which provides protection to online service providers (OSPs) in the case of copyright infringement on the OSP-provided network. To qualify for safe harbor, an OSP must act in good faith to address issues relating to copyright infringement on their network. UNC-Chapel Hill is considered an OSP because it is a provider of online services, i.e. the campus data network.
As a institution of higher learning and research, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill proudly supports the rights of content owners and is committed to protecting the security of the campus data network. As an online service provider, the University has a responsibility to adhere to the laws and guidelines set forth in U.S. copyright law and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. All users of the campus data network must subscribe to the rules outlined in the UNC-Chapel Hill Data Network Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), which prohibits users from using the campus data network to “engage in the unauthorized copying, distributing, altering or translating of copyrighted materials, software, music or other media without the express permissions of the copyright holder.” Visit the UNC-Chapel Hill Network Acceptable Use Policy to learn more.
Fair use is a provision of U.S. copyright law which defines the legal but limited use of copyrighted material without permission from the owner. Acceptable forms of fair use are for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship and research.
TCopyrighted materials need not bear the copyright symbol in order to be protected. Since 1978, all works created are automatically protected, regardless of whether the owner/author submits a copyright request; all works originally created before 1978 (whether registered or not) are also protected by copyright law. In fact, in the United State, as soon as they are created, all music, film/videos, software, text, photographs, digital images and sounds are granted copyright protection. It is better to always assume a work is copyrighted and that you must obtain permission to use it (i.e. download it or share it). To learn more or search for specific works, visit the U.S. Copyright Office.

If you are a UNC-Chapel Hill student:

  • The University will take disciplinary action if you engage in illegal file sharing. For your first offense, you face immediate but temporary loss of campus data network privileges and must attend a mandatory conference with ITS administrators. On your second offense, you face extended and/or permanent loss of campus data network privileges and will receive a referral for potential Honor Court proceedings.
  • Keep in mind that when a violation occurs, the University will make every effort to contact you. After three (3) failed attempts to reach you, the University will disable your Onyen. To avoid this consequence, you should respond to University notices and/or requests for a meeting.

If you are a member of the UNC-Chapel Hill faculty or staff:

  • The University will take disciplinary action if you engage in illegal file sharing. Consequences include: a mandatory conference between you and your supervisor; formal notice of poor performance for inappropriate behavior recorded on your annual review; or termination.

To all users of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus data network:

  • Violating the rights of a copyright owner can result in fines in the form of settlements or statutory damages. The courts determine the fines associated with copyright infringement, and fines can range from $200 per violation to $150,000 per violation. In addition to the statutory damages, if you are guilty of copyright infringement, you can be held accountable to pay costs and attorneys’s fees related to litigation. Many people, even several at Carolina, have found themselves being sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) acting on behalf of its member record companies, and in many cases the violators have been forced to pay thousands of dollars in settlements to the RIAA. Across the nation, students have reported paying up to $4,000 in settlement fees to the RIAA for a single copyright violation.
Email messages from recording industry groups alleging copyright infringement pursuant to the DMCA are sent to the officially designated email address, copyright@unc.edu, for the copyright agent for the University. If you receive a letter from the RIAA or other recording industry group, we advise you contact Carolina Student Legal Services.
The easiest way to avoid charges for illegal file sharing is to not do it in the first place. Explore the various sources for music, movies, software and games provided in Legal File Sharing Options and select one that meets your needs. If you use peer-to-peer (P2P) software to illegally download or share files from your computer, remove it. You can learn how to remove P2P software in by visiting this article on help.unc.edu. And finally, don’t let anyone else use your computer to illegally download or share files.
Unless you have explicit permission from the copyright holder, you cannot reproduce it (download or copy) or distribute (share) it.

For legal software acquisition, the University provides access to computer software, some free and others available at a reduced rate.

For more options, see the following.

  • The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) provides information on finding digital music through a wide variety of more than 60 online music services.
  • The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) details how to get movies and TV shows easily and quickly online.
  • Some software is available at no charge from the University’sShareware site.
  • Additionally, other software is available at a reduced fee(indicated by a $) from the University’s Software Acquisition office.