Peer to Peer file sharing applications such as Kazaa, BearShare, Limewire and others have become very popular. The primary use of this type of software application is to share copyrighted music and movies. These applications are typically downloaded from the internet for free and they enable immediate access to thousands of songs and videos. Most people who use these applications to share files do not understand the legal and other risks involved.
Downloading and sharing copyrighted music and movies without securing the appropriate right to use those works is copyright infringement. The CCRI Policy on the Responsible Use of Information Technology guides technology users to "Respect all pertinent licenses, contractual agreements, and copyrights" and to "Respect and adhere to all applicable local, state and federal laws." Users requiring access to music works are encourage to find subscription services, like Rhapsody, that enable legal downloads of music for a monthly fee.
As an additional risk, nearly all Peer to Peer programs set themselves up as servers when they are initially installed. This allows remote users to access your shared folders and copy files from them. This can use a substantial portion of CCRI's network bandwidth and negatively impact technology users in classrooms, labs and offices. The file sharing application also puts college files and documents that reside on your computer at risk to be shared outside of CCRI.
When you install file sharing programs on your computer, you also risk having Spyware installed as well. This is often done without your knowledge or can be carefully hidden in the license agreement. This Spyware can track your browsing habits, divert market-targeted advertising to your desktop, or harvest personal information (e.g., your name and email address) to later be used for sending spam. Once Spyware is installed on your system, it is very difficult to remove. It can affect the performance of your computer and impact your ability to do your job.
Information Technology recommends that you do not install file sharing programs on college owned computers unless they are required to serve an educational or business need.