An Important Message from the Dean of Students

Dear Members of the Boston University Community:

Welcome to our computing network community -- I hope you have a wonderful year. You are a member of one of the most technologically adept communities in the history of Boston University. As a University community, we want to help you make the most of the information technology available to you and to assist you in avoiding the dangerous pitfalls of using the Internet and other networked technologies. Due to an increasing number of reports of possible copyright infringement by users of Boston University's computer network I must remind you that federal copyright law prohibits unauthorized downloading, reproduction, distribution, or public display of copyrighted materials such as music, movies, and television programs.

Today's popular peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing services present new challenges to copyrighted music, movies, software and other protected intellectual property. File-sharing services may seem safe and efficient, but unless you have permission of the copyright owner, trading copyrighted material can have serious legal ramifications. The copyright laws that protect books, DVDs, and music CDs also apply to digital files containing copyrighted music, video, and software.

The University is able to make its efficient network resources and fast Internet access available to students, in part, because of the legal protections provided to Internet service providers by the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (the "DMCA"). To obtain protection under the DMCA, Boston University must, in appropriate circumstances, terminate the network access of any user who repeatedly violates copyright law. Therefore, the University will terminate the network access of students we believe are downloading, reproducing, or distributing copyrighted material in violation of federal and state copyright laws.

In addition to copyright and intellectual property laws, your use of the University's network resources and Internet access is governed by the Boston University's Code of Student Responsibilities, the conditions of use for University computing facilities, and our Policy on Computing Ethics. Students who download or distribute movies, music, programs, or software in violation of these laws and policies will be at risk of University disciplinary action, criminal prosecution, and civil litigation. Please monitor access to your files, secure your personal computers, and respond immediately to any report of possible copyright infringement you receive from the University's network administrators. You may be held responsible, via the University's disciplinary system and under the law, for misconduct that occurs from others' use or misuse of your personal computer.

You should know that we are also concerned about file sharing programs because they may compromise the security of your computer. Many viruses are designed to spread through file sharing networks. Some companies that provide "free" P2P file-sharing services install "spyware" and "adware" components on your computer. These programs track what you do with your computer; your P2P provider then sells this information. In the worst cases, spyware can be used to capture passwords and credit card numbers as you type them. As the Internet community grapples with these issues, your safest bet is to refrain from using popular file-sharing applications. The potential legal, disciplinary, and, security consequences are just too serious.

An important aspect of the University is to develop and to protect our collective and individual ideas, inventions, technology, software, and creative expression. We should not disregard other creators and inventors by using their music, movies, software and other protected intellectual property without their approval. To receive the respect that we deserve, we, as a learning and intellectual community, must give it.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. With best regards,


Kenneth Elmore
Dean of Students