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Avoiding Illegal Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

How does peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing work?

Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing is the distribution of digital media such as software, videos, music, and images through an informal network in order to upload and download files. Typically, P2P software allows users to select which files to share. These files are indexed on a central server, making them available for other users to find and download.

Sharing media is not illegal if you have the right to distribute the content. However, many file sharing applications are used to illegally access copyrighted material.

What are the risks of P2P file sharing?

Privacy Breach
Financial Penalties

What are some legal, affordable alternatives to P2P file sharing?


How is Northwestern involved in file sharing complaints?

Northwestern, along with other universities, is considered an Online Service Provider under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and is therefore responsible for ensuring that illegal P2P file sharing that uses University resources—from devices to the University network—are stopped. The DMCA complaint process is as follows:

What happens if a settlement letter is attached to my file sharing notice?

Members of the University who receive a settlement letter and are uncertain how to proceed are encouraged to seek external legal counsel. Settlement letters are not levied by Northwestern, nor does the University provide legal advice regarding the handling of these letters. 

Last Updated: 20 December 2018

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