Digital Copyright Safeguards

It is the responsibility of all users of BGSU information technology resources to know and understand all relevant laws and policies that govern usage. In general, the members of the BGSU community obey the law as well as the BGSU Information Technology Policy. However, some BGSU students, as well as many college and university students across the nation, continue to ignore and dismiss the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which is intended to limit the liability of service providers whose users are infringing upon the copyright of others, and to define the procedures necessary to report such infringement.

Information Technology Services (ITS) and the Office of Student Affairs have implemented a layered approach to educate students on the issues surrounding the DMCA, as well as measures to help enforce the proper, non-copyright infringing use of information technology.

BGSU Digital Copyright Safeguards Program

For additional educational material regarding P2P file-sharing and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), please refer to P2P Educational Resources.

As outlined in the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), universities are required to provide information regarding legal content that is available.

Educause maintains this list of alternatives and regularly updates the content. More information can be found by visiting the following website.

EDUCAUSE - Policy Analysis and Advocacy: Legal Sources of Online Content

Starting in August 2012, ITS will no longer allow P2P traffic for the exchanging of music, media, and other software.  This is enforced through a variety of network technologies that manage and prioritize network traffic.  Exceptions will be considered with proper justification.  Please contact the Technology Support Center with requests.

While we believe the BGSU response will mitigate the violations of DMCA, it is still possible that members of the BGSU community will ignore or circumvent the measures we have undertaken. When this happens representatives of copyrighted content (RIAA, MPAA, BSA, etc) may detect the illegal downloading or sharing of copyrighted content on the BGSU network.

As a result, they will send the university a letter of the alleged infringement. In order to comply, ITS will forward the complaint to Student Affairs (if the alleged infringer is an employee, ITS will forward the appropriate disciplinary authority for investigation), who will in turn notify the student of the complaint.

Office of Student Affairs can be contacted here.

In compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA), the information available via the BGSU Digital Copyright Safeguards web pages is provided in order to:

  • explicitly inform students that unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including peer-to-peer file sharing may be subject to civil and criminal liabilities;
    • ITS Information Security Office and the Division of Student Affairs annually send a message to BGSU students providing information regarding the proper use of digital copyrighted resources.  A copy of the message sent is available for your reference.
  • provide a summary of the penalties for violation of Federal copyright laws; and
    • Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.

Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.

Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

For more information, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQ's at

  • describe the institution’s policies with respect to unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, including disciplinary actions that are taken against students who engage in illegal downloading or unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials using the institution’s information technology system.
    • Information on both the Digital Copyright Safeguards and the process for DMCA notices are outlined above.

Further information regarding HEOA may also be referenced on the Educause web site:

P2P FAQ & Educational Resources

P2P stands for peer-to-peer, or computer-to-computer, and file sharing refers to downloading and uploading digital files over a network. P2P software needs to be installed to join a P2P network. P2P technology enables the sharing of computer resources and services, including information, files, and storage by direct exchange between systems, without the use of central servers.

Starting in August 2012, ITS will no longer allow P2P traffic for the exchanging of music, media, and other software.  This is enforced through a variety of network technologies that manage and prioritize network traffic.  Exceptions will be considered with proper justification.  Please contact with any questions.

Although not an exhaustive list the following are common P2P applications:

Ares, Azureus, BitComet, BitLord, BitTornado, BitTorrent, FlashGet, Gnutella, KaZaa, LimeWire, Morpheus, Shareaza, uTorrent, Xunlei/Thunder & eDonkey.

P2P programs are not illegal although they can cause unexpected problems. Many P2P programs are not well tested and may vary in quality. Users have reported configuration problems that have unintentionally shared their entire hard drive, including personal information, with other P2P users. Although P2P software is normally free to download, it may contain other unwanted software such as spyware, malware, or trojan software that can expose sensitive information or decrease processing performance of the computer.

File sharing itself is not illegal but the sharing of copyrighted material is. Copyright refers to ownership of original works. Those owners decide specifically how the copyrighted works are to be used. An example of a music copyright organization is Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA), a group that works toward protecting copyright owner’s property.
Copyright owners and the organizations working to protect them often monitor file sharing networks, including universities, for copyright infringement.  When certain illegal activity is detected lawful action can be taken for proper restitution.

Some examples are audio files, songs, books and motion pictures. When these are in digital form and shared over a network, without the copyright owner’s permission, legal problems can occur. For a FAQ regarding copyrights, go to the following link at the US Copyright Office:

This can result in civil and criminal penalties. In addition, institutional disciplinary actions can result.

There are a number of legal music sites such as Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, Napster, eMusic and Rhapsody. Go to the following link for more legal music downloading sites:

Legal music downloading sites

P2P file sharing is network resource intensive. Without additional controls P2P can consume available network bandwidth and catastrophically affect the academic mission of the university network.
Additional bandwidth leads to additional costs. Unfortunately P2P file sharing traffic can quickly consume additional bandwidth.

P2P software is not supported by the university and may cause unexpected problems. It is strongly discouraged to install P2P software on university owned IT equipment without legitimate academic need.

P2P software should NEVER be installed on university IT equipment that contains financial or sensitive information. P2P applications can lead to unintentional information exposures and other unwanted problems such as malware.

It is important to discuss P2P needs prior to installation with immediate supervisors. Call the Technology Support Center if a specific network file is needed for academic purpose.

They are located on the Office of the CIO website, click here.

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