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The Higher Education Opportunity Act (2008) requires that Bethel University inform its students each year that the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials may subject them to criminal and civil penalties and what steps the university will take to detect and hold students accountable for illegal distribution of copyrighted materials. 

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and other organizations continue their initiatives to stop peer-to-peer file sharing of copyrighted music, movies, and games by students on college campuses. Please be aware that violations of copyright law can lead to criminal charges and civil penalties. Under current law, criminal cases of copyright violation carry a penalty of up to five (5) years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Civil penalties for copyright infringement include a minimum fine of $750 for each item. While criminal prosecution for illegal downloading is rare, civil lawsuits are quite common for some institutions. Bethel students have been the target of these lawsuits in the past, and we want to make you aware that this may affect you as a student at Bethel.

Students should be aware that file sharing is automatically turned on when peer-to-peer applications such as Limewire, Bit Torrent, FastTrack, Gnutella, AresWarez, KaZaA, and eDonkey are downloaded. It is illegal to share copyright-protected materials through these programs, whether or not you own the CD or DVD from which the file was taken. It is permissible to have music files on your computer if you own the appropriate copyright (CD or DVD), but you may not share it with others.

Furthermore, the student who owns the computer may be legally liable for the peer-to-peer file sharing violation regardless of who installed the program on the computer and regardless of who is using it at the time of a peer-to-peer sharing violation. In addition, students who allow other persons to use their personal wireless networks may be held responsible for peer-to-peer file sharing violations if those who connect through this private network violate the law.

Students should also be aware and take measures to eliminate these file sharing programs from their computers. If you do not know how to check your computer for peer-to-peer file sharing programs or do not know how to turn them off, we suggest you contact a friend who is familiar with these kinds of programs. The configuration for each installation is different depending on the program that is installed on your computer. If you have questions about these programs, you may also call ITS at 651.638.6500.

If the university is notified of an alleged student violation of copyright laws through peer-to-peer file sharing, the following steps will be taken:

  • The student’s computer will be blocked (i.e., the computer will be unable to connect to Bethel’s network).
  • The student will be required to set up an appointment with a dean in the Office of Student Life to discuss the alleged violation. 
  • Upon satisfactory removal of the violating materials from the student's computer, the computer can be reconnected to the Bethel network. 
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