Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

There is a lot of controversy about whether peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing programs such as LimeWire and BitTorrent are legal, and whether the material that is downloaded using these programs is legal.  This article should help clarify some of the confusion surrounding this topic.  It should be noted that while the use of P2P file sharing programs is discouraged on campus, the exception is when it provides a key operational service or is integral to research.

P2P software IS legal.  This software is designed to allow individuals to connect to each other to share files, and the more people that are connected and sharing a file, the faster the downloads go.  This is why it is becoming popular for free software, such as Linux distributions, to be distributed in this manner.  Some major software companies are also starting to use P2P connections to distribute software patches and updates due to its high reliability and speed.  Finally, software developers who use P2P as a means for distribution, do not have to pay for a high bandwidth file server for users to download their software. 

Downloading unauthorized copyrighted material IS NOT legal.  Using P2P software to share or download unauthorized copyrighted material such as music, movies, games, and licensed software has become a real issue over the past several years.  This is a violation of copyright laws and is illegal.  Also, another problem with P2P file sharing is that the software is designed to share what is downloaded, so not only are you downloading illegal content, but you are also helping to distribute the illegal content.  Caution should be exercised when using P2P programs and other media applications as they may be pre-configured to permiscously share your media files with other users connected to the P2P service or the local network without your knowledge or consent.

Downloading unauthorized copyrighted material is not allowed on any UTEP system or through any of UTEP's infrastructure, which includes Wireless network, PPP (Dial-Up), VPN (Virtual Private Networking) connections, as well as Miner Village.  Any persons caught, or reported, downloading unauthorized copyrighted material will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance to university policy.