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Understanding the Risks of Illegal Downloads

The trading of copyrighted movies, television shows, games, software, and music over the Internet via Torrent or Peer-2-Peer sites has become commonplace. However, it is often illegal. Most material is copyrighted, and obtaining or offering such material in violation of the U.S. copyright law may be punishable with civil and criminal penalties including prison time and monetary damages.

When copyright holders commence legal actions, the University does not protect copyright infringers.

Therefore, it is important to understand the personal risks not only because of the possibility of disciplinary action, but also to protect against criminal prosecution and the initiation of civil litigation by copyright holders. Please be aware that initiation of legal action by copyright holders is becoming more of a reality every day. Every month UCSF receives dozens of infringement claims about file sharing. In compliance with the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act and University of California Guidelines for Compliance with Online Service Provider Provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, UCSF expeditiously takes action when notified of infringing sites located on the campus network. All of these incidents are referred to the appropriate campus officials and appropriate disciplinary actions are levied against those who are downloading or offering copyrighted materials without appropriate permission.

Do not believe that "recreational file sharing" is unlikely to be noticed or that any file transfer method (uTorrent, Vuze, etc.) is anonymous or untraceable. This is not the case. The reality is that copyright holders are significantly intensifying enforcement using advanced scanning software to identify infringements, no matter how small. As an example, The Recording Industry Association of America previously filed suit against four students at three universities for copyright infringement. Settlements ranged from $12,000 to $17,000.

The University is working to educate students, faculty, and staff and to develop long-term solutions on this issue, including exploring commercially available services to facilitate campus access to legal online entertainment and creating an informational web campaign, which can be found at http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/shareright

For more information on UC's systemwide policies, visit http://www.ucop.edu/irc/policy/copyright.html

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