File Sharing


So you think that downloading free music and movies from the Internet is a great idea? You might want to think twice about that.

Illegally downloading copyrighted music, movies and other protected material via file-sharing programs can cost you your network access. You may even be subject to civil and criminal penalties ranging from $750 to $200,000 and up to 10 years of imprisonment. University employees who violate university computer-use policies will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. Student violations are misconduct under the applicable student disciplinary code. Sanctions may include revocation of network access privileges in addition to other sanctions available under the regular disciplinary procedures.

Follow ECU’s student code of conduct ( computing-use policies, ECU copyright policies ( and federal copyright laws (

University Attorney Statement on Copyright:

Questions? Contact the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, 364 Wright Building, 252.328.6824.

ECU’s File Sharing / Copyright Awareness Campaign [pdf]


How do file-sharing programs work?

Most file-sharing programs are “peer-to-peer” programs. This means that rather than having one central repository for all the files available for download, the program keeps track of what files all of its users have. When you download a file using a peer-to-peer program, you’re not getting that file from a central server – you’re getting it from someone like you who also has that program installed on their computer. Everyone using the program shares their files with everyone else; thus the term “file-sharing”.

The settings in your file-sharing program determine which files you are sharing with others. If the settings are configured incorrectly, you could end up sharing your entire hard drive – a big security risk for you.


How can I tell if my computer is distributing files?

Most file-sharing programs have a configuration panel where you can designate how many people can get files from you at once (your upload capacity) and which directories are shared. If your upload capacity is greater than 0, and if any directories are shared, then other people can download files from your computer. If you aren’t sure where to find these preferences, check the Help feature or the online user manual for the program you are using.

Note: Some programs use 0 to mean unlimited instead of meaning 0. It will often appear like this [0: unlimited] next to the settings. Make sure that if you have set something to 0 it means 0 and not unlimited.


How do I stop my computer from distributing files?

The exact configuration depends on which file-sharing program you are using. Consult the Help feature or the online user manual for your program. To be absolutely sure that you’re not distributing files, you can always uninstall your file-sharing program.

Note: It is not possible to turn off “sharing” in a bittorrent program. While you are downloading anything in a bittorrent program (e.g. uTorrent, Bitcomet, Azureus, etc.) the item you are downloading is being shared with other computers. Your computer continues to share those files as long as you are online, even after you have finished downloading them.


Check Out These Legal Sites / Pandora / eMusic / iTunes / Wal-Mart / Spotify

Swank Motion Pictures

Where to get movies and TV shows

Other legal sources of online content

Visit Creative Commons, a global nonprofit organization that enables sharing and reuse of creativity and knowledge through the provision of free legal tools, for resources such as literary works, videos, photos, audio, and more.

Recommended Reading

What the Law Says and What It Means – RIAA [html]

Beware of Fee-Based Download Services – CDT [html]

ECU Students: Copyright and You [pdf]