What risks are there in sharing files on the Internet?
Whether you share files with others in online communities like Facebook and MySpace or through Peer-To-Peer (P2P) file sharing applications like Limewire and Morpheus, you face the risk of virus, Trojan horse, worm and spyware infections, identity theft and fraud. You also risk potentially violating federal copyright laws if you share copyrighted software programs, books, movies, videos and songs without a license to do.
What can I do to reduce my risks?
To reduce your risks when filing sharing:
- Keep your anti-virus program up to date and running.
- Keep your firewall up to date and running.
- Regularly install updates for your computer’s operating system and software.
- Only accept file downloads or click on links from people you know and trust, or when you have permission from the copyright owner.
- Before you install any program on your computer, especially a P2P application, read that program’s documentation and disable, if possible, file-sharing access.
- If you do allow file-sharing access, be sure your computer settings don’t allow access to applications, folders or files containing personal information such as passwords, bank account numbers, and credit card numbers.
- It is best to assume that all material is copyrighted. The University cannot protect you from a copyright complaint. In fact, it may be legally required to assist a complainant in pursuing action against you.
Everybody I know shares music and video files online for personal use. What’s the big deal?
If you were to receive a pre-litigation letter from the RIAA or similar organization, the average settlement amount offered is about $3,000 total or $750 for each alleged file shared depending upon the number of alleged files shared. And if you didn’t settle out of court, you could face fines of up to $250,000 and up to three years in jail.