P2P Awareness Program

The Information Technology Services (ITS) P2P awareness program is designed to increase awareness of the risks of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing. The program was created in response to the requirements established in the Higher Education Opportunity Act.

Peer-to-Peer File Sharing and the Higher Education Opportunity Act

In August 2008, the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) was signed into law. Among other provisions, the law establishes new federal requirements for colleges and universities, designed to deter copyright infringement. The HEOA requires academic institutions to communicate to students on an annual basis about copyright infringement and peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing, as well as to use technology-based deterrents.

The ITS program is described below.

  • The purpose of this program is educational. There are no disciplinary actions directly associated with this program. ITS does not monitor the content of your P2P traffic or whether you are using P2P technology in a legal or illegal manner.
  • If you use USC’s residential or wireless networks, you will receive the email below automatically once for every 24-hour period in which ITS detects P2P activity on equipment that is registered to you.
  • To discourage illegal downloading, USC also rate-limits P2P traffic on ResNet, the university’s residential network.
  • You may choose to opt out of the P2P awareness program by pledging that you understand how your P2P program works and that you are using your P2P software in a legal manner.
  • If you do not opt out of the ITS P2P awareness program, you will receive one email for every 24-hour period in which ITS detects P2P activity on equipment registered to you.

P2P Awareness Email

Below is the text of the email that you will receive when ITS detects P2P activity on equipment that is registered to you. The letter will be addressed to you.

From: p2p-awareness@usc.edu
Subject: P2P Awareness Program for [NAME OF ACCOUNT HOLDER]

Dear [NAME]:

You are receiving this email as part of the Information Technology Services (ITS) educational P2P awareness program. ITS logs have recorded peer-to-peer (P2P) activity on a machine registered to you. (Details of this activity are available at the end of this message.)

What is P2P?

P2P is a generic term used to describe software that allows people to exchange files directly with members of a computing network without going through a centralized server. There are a wide variety of P2P applications. Some of the more commonly used ones are Vuze, BitTorrent, Shareaza, and iMesh.

Although P2P applications may be used for legal purposes, P2P applications represent a complicated technology and carry considerable risks if used improperly. P2P programs may expose your computer and the USC network to malicious programs, including Trojan horses, worms, and viruses. P2P programs also make it easy to illegally share copyrighted material.

How does the P2P awareness program work?

If you use USC’s residential or wireless networks, you will receive this email message once for every 24-hour period in which ITS detects P2P activity on a machine that is registered to your account. This email is strictly informational. If you think that you have received this message in error, contact p2p-awareness@usc.edu or reply to this email.

To discourage the use of the USC network for illegal file sharing, ITS also rate-limits P2P traffic on ResNet, USC’s residential network. This means that download and upload speeds for P2P traffic will be considerably slower than speeds for other types of network traffic.

Can I opt out?

If you understand the risks of using P2P programs and can pledge that you are using your P2P software in a legal manner, you may choose to opt out of this email notification program. If you pledge to use P2P technology in a legal manner, you may use P2P technology on ResNet without being subject to rate-limiting. Go to http://www.usc.edu/programs/p2poptout/ if you are sure you want to opt out. (You will need to log in.)

Be aware that opting out of the P2P program does not exempt you from ResNet bandwidth usage limits. Go to cio.usc.edu/policies/limits for more information.

Before you opt out, read this:

You are responsible for all activity that occurs on your USC computing account, as well as on all equipment that is registered to you.

By participating in the unauthorized sharing of copyrighted material (music, movies, anime, textbooks, etc.) over the Internet, you may receive copyright infringement notices, pre-litigation notices, and subpoenas from copyright holders or their representatives. (See cio.usc.edu/copyright/notifications for more information.) Any USC computer account holder who infringes copyright laws also risks loss of access to the USC computer system and disciplinary action by USC.

Some students receive copyright infringement notices for inadvertently sharing files that they have legitimately purchased, because they do not understand how their P2P software functions. If you are not vigilant about the settings of your P2P software, you may upload files to other computers on the P2P network without being aware that it is happening. When you download a file from a P2P network, portions of the file that you are downloading will be available to other members of the P2P network while the downloading process occurs, even if your settings do not allow file sharing. With certain P2P programs, your files are available for sharing as soon as you launch the program.

If you do not understand how your P2P software works, ITS recommends that you disable or remove the software.

Details of your P2P activity

[Details of your P2P activity will be provided here.]