Student Use of Computing Resources

Policies Regarding Student Use of Computing Resources at USC

Section 1. General Understandings

1.1 University computing systems are shared resources. Therefore, any action that inhibits or has the potential to inhibit the ability of others to utilize these resources must be considered a policy violation. Because the Information Technology Services (ITS) cannot enumerate all possible violations that might arise, system administrators will evaluate situations not explicitly addressed in written policy on a case-by-case basis. For more comprehensive information about the use of computing resources and facilities, students should consult the online policies at Students are expected to familiarize themselves with these policies and abide by them. Furthermore, students are expected to exercise good judgment in their use of university systems and are encouraged to consult ITS officials when questions arise regarding potentially inappropriate computer usage.

1.2 Many violations of computing policies are not intentional or malicious. ITS sees its role as one of educating users about computing policy and about the appropriate use of computing resources at USC. However, when circumstances demand – for example, if violations are repeated after initial warnings or if improper computing conduct violates other university polices or applicable laws – then ITS will seek sanctions against users from the appropriate disciplinary body. ITS will cooperate with investigative authorities as required by court order, warrant, subpoena, or other legal discovery in the collection of evidence of possible violations of law through the misuse of computing resources.

Section 2. Prohibited Behavior

2.1 Electronic communication – which includes but is not limited to e-mail, network news, and chat sessions – can result in problems when used carelessly. The following behaviors are considered policy violations with respect to electronic communication:

  • Transmitting intimidating, harassing, or threatening electronic communication;
  • Forging electronic communication;
  • Transmitting any form of unauthorized bulk or junk e-mail (mass e-mailings, unsolicited junk e-mail, propagation of chain e-mail);
  • Inappropriate postings to electronic newsgroups that are often associated with subscriber complaints.

2.2 Behaviors that inhibit or have the potential to inhibit the ability of others to utilize shared computing resources are considered policy violations. Such behaviors include but are not limited to:

  • Exceeding limits for resource usage. Current allowable limits are published online at;
  • Engaging in any activity designed to intentionally compromise computer security (hacking) at USC or any other site;
  • Using time-sharing systems to run network servers (including Web servers, IRC servers or BOTS) and game servers (such as MUDD);
  • Providing access to USC resources to individuals outside the university community;
  • Sharing one’s university computer account with any other person, in any way. Users may not give their passwords to others, allow remote or password-free logins to their accounts, or permit another individual to use their account after personally logging in. Account holders are responsible for all actions performed with their accounts.

2.3 Copyright laws apply to all electronic information that has not fallen into the public domain. Copyright violations may include but are not limited to:

  • Reproduction of copyrighted materials, trademarks, or other protected material in any electronic form without express written permission from the material’s owner;
  • Distribution or duplication of copyrighted software without appropriate licensing agreements, or use of software in a manner inconsistent with its license;
  • Distribution or reproduction, in any digital form, of copyrighted music, video, or other multimedia content without the express written permission of the material’s rightful owner.

2.4 Individuals are prohibited from using their computer accounts in association with any commercial (for-profit) purpose or enterprise.

Section 3. Administration of Student Computing Policy

3.1 The university reserves the right to restrict the use of its computing facilities and limit access to its networks when faced with evidence of violations of university policies or standards, of contractual obligations, or of federal, state, or local laws. Violations of the law may be reported to the appropriate civic authorities. When student violations of university policies or standards warrant disciplinary action, the Office for Student Conduct will administer the process. In most cases, ITS officials will attempt educational or remedial interventions prior to disciplinary action. Such interventions, however, do not preclude initiation of disciplinary action. Access to computing facilities may be restricted or denied during educational or remedial interventions, pending disciplinary adjudication, or as the result of disciplinary action.