Our Community Values

You live and study in the heart of a vibrant, knowledge-based community – a community of thinkers able to create beautiful art; grab your emotions through sound; and inspire you with inventions. As an educational community, we – Boston University – are committed to the creation and dissemination of knowledge. Knowledge is the cornerstone of any university’s endeavors, and the ability to understand, find meaning, and interpret information is the likely foundation of your future aspirations and careers. Consistent with our commitment, we must respect the intellectual property rights that protect innovative creations, including music, movies and software protected by copyright law. Illegal file-sharing may undermine incentives for knowledge creation and diverts significant University resources within this community – your tuition dollars – to attend to the consequences.

Today’s popular peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing services and software present new challenges to copyrighted music, movies, software and other protected intellectual property. At first impression, most online file-sharing services appear safe, legal, and efficient, however, unless you have permission of the copyright owner, trading copyrighted material can have serious ramifications. The copyright laws that protect books, DVDs, and music CDs also apply to digital files containing music, video, pictures, and software. Using file-sharing software and technology to share copyrighted materials without permission of the copyright holder, or under a lawful exception, is against federal copyright law and is a violation of Boston University’s Conditions of Use and Policy on Computing Ethics and Code of Student Responsibilities. For additional information about Copyright Basics, including a description of “fair use,” please review www.bu.edu/tech/security/services/incidents/copyright/basics/ and www.bu.edu/tech/security/services/incidents/copyright/resources/.

Legal Risks and Consequences

Over the past few years, copyright holders and their agents, such as the Recording Industry Association of America (“RIAA”) and the Motion Picture Association of America (“MPAA”) have filed lawsuits against many Boston University students alleging illegal file-sharing (sharing copyrighted material – often music, television shows, and movies – without the permission of copyright holders) . Many students (and their families) have paid thousands of dollars – typically between $3,000 and $8,000 – to settle these claims. As you may know, one Boston University graduate student who decided to fight a file-sharing lawsuit in court was ordered to pay damages of $675,000. Illegal file-sharing risks serious legal penalties, both civil and criminal. Civil penalties may include actual damages and profits, or statutory damages (ranging from $750 to $30,000 per work that is infringed). Moreover, the court can also award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs and increase the damages in the case of a willful infringement. Criminal penalties can include fines and imprisonment.

University Consequences

Copyright holders and their agents regularly notify the University, as your Internet service provider, of allegations of illegal file sharing. The University addresses these notices, as it is required to do so, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in accordance with the process outlined at http://www.bu.edu/tech/services/security/services/incidents/copyright/basics/. The University is able to make its efficient network resources and fast Internet access available to students, in part, because of the legal protections provided to Internet service providers by the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (the “DMCA”). To obtain protection under the DMCA, Boston University must, in appropriate circumstances, terminate the network access of any user who repeatedly violates copyright law. Therefore, the University will, in appropriate circumstances, terminate the network access of students we believe are downloading, reproducing, or distributing copyrighted material in violation of federal and state copyright laws.

In addition to copyright and intellectual property laws, your use of the University’s network resources and Internet access is governed by the Boston University's Code of Student Responsibilities, the conditions of use for University computing facilities, and our Policy on Computing Ethics. Students who download or distribute movies, music, programs, or software in violation of these laws and policies will be at risk of University disciplinary action, criminal prosecution, and civil litigation. Please monitor access to your files, secure your personal computers, and respond immediately to any report of possible copyright infringement you receive from the University's network administrators. You may be held responsible, via the University’s disciplinary system and under the law, for misconduct that occurs from others’ use or misuse of your personal computer.

Legal Alternatives

Enormous advances in technology over the past few years have made electronic content more widely available. There are a variety of legal alternatives to stream or download content at little or no cost, including:

• iTunes
• Amazon.com
• Hulu
• Pandora Internet Radio
• Last.fm
• Netflix
• Rhapsody