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Information Technology Handbook

Print friendly Version date May 16, 2014

5.14.1 Overview

USG policies prohibit the distribution of materials owned by anyone other than the person engaged in such distribution, whether officially copyrighted or not, without the permission of the owner. The distribution of copyright protected files without the permission of the copyright holder is illegal.

5.14.2 Applicability and Availability

This guideline applies to all USG institutions, the USO, the GPLS, and the Georgia Archives. This includes students, faculty and staff members as well as guest account holders.

5.14.3 Purpose

The USG Appropriate Use Policy establishes a general policy for the use of computing, telephone and information resources. The purpose of this guideline is to establish acceptable practices that support the policy as it applies to copyright violations.

This guideline was established to ensure that the USG community has a clear understanding of proper procedure and usage. USG Information Security & ePrivacy reserves the right to modify this guideline as necessary.

5.14.4 Guideline Statement

For anyone accessing the Internet through the USG’s PeachNet℠ network using an institutionally-owned or personally-owned computer, the USG institution, the USO, the GPLS, or the Georgia Archives serves as the Internet Service Provider (ISP), and is therefore bound by laws and policies that apply to ISPs.

The USG requires that all users of its network learn and abide by relevant policies that apply to such use as outlined in the USG Appropriate Use Policy.

As an ISP, the USG institution, the USO, the GPLS, or the Georgia Archives is required to respond, and has responded, to complaints from copyright holders and organizations representing copyright holders, such as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), regarding the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials. Most such complaints are associated with peer-to-peer music and video distribution. When receiving a “cease and desist order” from these and other organizations with credible evidence of the abuse and sufficient identification of the computers involved, USG Information Security & ePrivacy has the right to investigate the situation and inform the USG participant organization responsible for the computer(s) at issue of the complaint.

Recent developments suggest that if requested by representatives of copyright holders, the USG will be legally required to provide information about individual users who appear to be illegally distributing copyrighted materials on our network and/or to the Internet. These organizations, particularly the RIAA, have indicated or explicitly announced their intention to aggressively identify and bring suits against individual users for such distribution of copyrighted materials.

In such cases, it is the individual engaged in such distribution that will be legally liable and subject to possible fines, which according to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act can range from $750 to $150,000 per song if songs are the items being distributed illegally. The RIAA recently won a legal case requiring Verizon, an ISP, to turn over the names of subscribers who, according to the RIAA, were engaging in illegal file sharing using their network. Furthermore, the RIAA recently sued four college students who were allegedly engaged in extensive sharing of copyrighted music on their colleges’ networks. These suits were settled, with the students involved agreeing to pay between $12,000 and $17,000 in compensation.

5.14.5 Responsibilities and Procedures

Because of USG’s standing policy and because of the announced intention by the RIAA to pursue personal suits as well as issue cease and desist orders to ISPs, we urge all members of the USG community to strictly follow USG policy and this guideline on the distribution of copyrighted material.

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