Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York  

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Peer-to-Peer Policy

Peer-to-peer applications are defined as programs which allow computers to share data in the form of music, movies, games, or any computer file or software over a local network and the Internet without accessing a centralized distribution server or set of servers.  The University does not, at this time, prohibit and does not block the use of peer-to-peer applications on any part of its network or the IT Resources.  The University understands that there are legitimate academic uses for such applications.  However, use of these applications has been known to cause problems which can affect the entire University community as well as individual Users.

The University mandates that all IT Resources be used in a manner consistent with the IT Policy and compliant with The Higher Education Opportunity Act and all other applicable laws and regulations.  The University is under no obligation to protect a User from a complaint or action arising from any violation, or alleged violation, of the law, including infringement of any intellectual property right due to use of peer-to-peer, or any other type of “file-sharing,” software or networks.  Users should understand that the fact that material is accessible through the Internet does not mean that accessing such material is authorized by third party rights-holders.  In some cases, even Content that is only accessible after a User pays for it may not be authorized for distribution by those who hold rights to that Content.

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.  Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.  Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.  For more information, please see the U.S. Copyright Office website at, specifically FAQ's at

Accordingly, the University prohibits the use of peer-to-peer applications on its networks or the IT Resources, in general, to transmit or exchange any videos, music, software, images, or other Content, in which the intellectual property is held by any party or entity other than the User, unless the User has valid, written authorization to access or distribute such Content.  Any use of the IT Resources in violation of this policy will be subject to disciplinary sanctions in keeping with the applicable provisions of the IT Policy and other University statutes, rules, and policies.  Nonetheless, the University allows and encourages the use of peer-to-peer applications for legitimate academic purposes when such uses do not involve any violation of applicable laws, statutes, or policies, or infringement of third party rights.

The University will continue to implement safeguards against the illegal exchange and distribution of copyrighted materials.  To that end, the University employs various deterrents such as bandwidth management technology to ensure peer-to-peer programs do not degrade network speeds or any other portion of the IT Resources.  Currently, Fordham IT uses Packeteer to perform this work but reserves the right to install or change packet shaping and traffic monitoring technologies at any time. Nonetheless, should such programs degrade the performance of the IT Resources, or otherwise affect them in a manner inconsistent with the IT Policy or other University policies, appropriate action will be taken against the User or Users responsible for such degradation or other negative impact.

Users should be aware that peer-to-peer applications are not necessarily harmless and using them, in addition to potentially degrading the IT Resources’ performance, may:

- Violate copyright, patent, trademark, or other rights;

- May result in the disclosure confidential information; and

- May jeopardize the security of the IT Resources.  

As noted above, disproportionate bandwidth usage and the unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted materials constitutes a violation of the University's IT Policy. The IT department of the University will annually review its peer-to-peer policy and procedures to ensure the utmost compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. To see a list of alternatives for legal downloading, please visit


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