New system will help computer users avoid illegal file-sharing

Oct 29, 2007

The University of Michigan will launch a new educational service to help students avoid unintentionally infringing copyright law.

Be Aware You're Uploading (BAYU) is a new automated system that detects when computers on residence hall networks upload files using peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing technology.

"The University is launching this educational service because many people who use peer-to-peer file-sharing technology do so in ways that may result in copyright infringement or other risks," said Jack Bernard, assistant general counsel in the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel. The service begins Oct. 30.

BAYU is part of U-M's long-standing educational campaign to help students use computing and network resources effectively and lawfully. Peer-to-peer file-sharing, itself, is a lawful activity and is used increasingly for important instructional activities and research. But, it is what and how users file-share that may be unlawful, Bernard said. Many users who intend to use the technology lawfully are infringing unwittingly.

Last year, the University received hundreds of notices from copyright holders who alleged that users were uploading copyrighted content using P2P technology. Many users reported they had not intended to upload, thought they had turned off the uploading feature on their computer or only had uploaded files that were lawful to upload.

The new service will help users avoid unknowingly uploading copyrighted material; help users who are consciously uploading to do so responsibly; and help individuals who use peer-to-peer file-sharing be mindful of the risks associated with the technology.

When BAYU notices P2P uploading, it will send an e-mail with a link to educational information and University resources to the person associated with that computer. BAYU also will help users avoid accidentally exposing themselves to computer viruses and violations of their privacy through P2P uploading.

"We hope that BAYU will help alert students to the possibility that they are uploading unintentionally so they can avoid violating the law," Bernard said. "BAYU does not look at the content being uploaded or content on a computer's hard drive. It simply notifies individuals that a computer associated with them is engaged in uploading. The decision about whether or not to continue uploading rests with the individual."

Many people use peer-to-peer file-sharing technology without understanding how it works, Bernard said. Some P2P applications come configured to upload, so if users do not reconfigure the application to prevent uploading, they may end up uploading accidentally. Even if students have configured their computer software not to upload, the uploading feature may be reengaged when the software is restarted, updated, or through some other mechanism.

Students can mitigate their risks by monitoring their use of P2P technology, understanding how the technology works, and learning about the laws and policies that govern its use, said Bernard. As long as P2P technology is on a computer there is some risk.

The Recording Industry Association of America is cracking down nationally on the illegal swapping of songs. It is seeking settlements with people at 19 universities, including U-M, which has recently received notice of 20 such settlements.

The University is working on ways to expand the benefits of the program to the broader campus community.

Source: University of Michigan

Explore further: Twitter rules out Turkey office amid tax row

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mobile apps shake up world of dating

Feb 13, 2014

Looking to meet women, 20-year-old US college student Leland turned to mobile phone app Tinder, after a friend told him about his own successful exploits.

What does Google want with DeepMind?

Jan 31, 2014

All eyes turned to London this week, as Google announced its latest acquisition in the form of DeepMind, a company that specialises in artificial intelligence technologies. The £400m pricetag paid by Google ...

3-D scanning with your smartphone

Jan 31, 2014

Traditionally, 3-D scanning has required expensive laser scanner equipment, complicated software, and technological expertise.

Robots as platforms?

Jan 21, 2014

An odd concept for anyone raised on the idea of robots as clunky metal machines or toys designed to make life easier or more fun, but a new EU-funded research project introduces the idea of robots as platforms ...

Recommended for you

Net neutrality balancing act

4 hours ago

Researchers in Italy, writing in the International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management have demonstrated that net neutrality benefits content creator and consumers without compromising provider innovation nor pr ...

Twitter rules out Turkey office amid tax row

Apr 16, 2014

Social networking company Twitter on Wednesday rejected demands from the Turkish government to open an office there, following accusations of tax evasion and a two-week ban on the service.

How does false information spread online?

Apr 16, 2014

Last summer the World Economic Forum (WEF) invited its 1,500 council members to identify top trends facing the world, including what should be done about them. The WEF consists of 80 councils covering a wide range of issues including social media. Members come ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Tiny power plants hold promise for nuclear energy

Small underground nuclear power plants that could be cheaper to build than their behemoth counterparts may herald the future for an energy industry under intense scrutiny since the Fukushima disaster, the ...

Hand out money with my mobile? I think I'm ready

A service is soon to launch in the UK that will enable us to transfer money to other people using just their name and mobile number. Paym is being hailed as a revolution in banking because you can pay peopl ...