Peer to Peer File Sharing Policy

What is Peer-to-Peer File Sharing?

Peer-to-peer (P2P) is a method of content distribution in which digital files are shared between “peer” computers using the Internet. Because “peer” computers do not rely on a central server to deliver content and they often break large files into numerous smaller pieces for sharing, P2P networks can be fast and reliable, balancing traffic loads that might otherwise overwhelm servers, and minimizing the impact of service breakdown due to single server or communication interruption. The roles of producer, consumer, and distributor of digital content are less clear---while greater quantities of information and resources can be delivered to a larger audience and applications than would be possible using conventional distribution methods. When used under the guidelines of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), P2P technology has the potential to play a pivotal role with regard to content distribution and knowledge sharing in higher education.

Additional Information:

- Digital Millennium Copyright Act

- 7 Things you should know about P2P

Is P2P File Sharing Illegal?

File sharing is legal if the shared content is not copyrighted or is shared with the authorization of the copyright holder. Unauthorized distribution of copyrighted content (books, journals, music, video, artwork, media, etc.) is copyright infringement.  A simple analogy to use as a guideline---if the content can be purchased, sharing the work in an unauthorized fashion without payment or permission is not legal and violates the DMCA

Additional Information:

Frequently Asked Questions about the P2P Piracy Prevention Act(H.R. 5211)

Dartmouth College

How Can I Find Legal Sources or Web Sites for Downloading Music and Video?

A list of popular legal sites can be found at:   Legal Download Sites


I’d Like to Learn More About These Issues and How I Can Protect the Content I Create.

Here are several useful sites that address copyright issues, P2P, and content ownership:

- Campus Downloading

- RIAA Frequently Asked Questions for Students

- Copyright Alliance

- Creative Commons

- Open Media Commons

Frequently Asked Questions About File Sharing