The University of San Francisco: Information Technology Services
Information Technology

File Sharing Myths

Myth #1: It's OK for me to download or share 999 songs, because the RIAA is only going after those with 1000 or more songs.

Reality: Unlawfully file-sharing one copyrighted work is against the law and you run the risk of discipline at USF.

Myth #2: It's OK for me to download songs or movies that I paid for at one time, but have since lost.

Reality: While it's almost certainly a fair use (within the bounds of copyright law) to convert a copy of a song or movie you own into another format for your own personal enjoyment, having purchased a song or movie on CD, DVD or videotape at some point in your life does not give you the right to free downloads of it in the future.

Myth #3: It's OK for me to download a copy of a television program because I could have recorded it legally if I had remembered to set my DVR.

Reality: It is NOT OK to download television programs off of the Internet, absent the express consent of the copyright owner (e.g., Fox, ABC). Television producers are being extremely proactive in going after unlawful file-sharing.

Myth #4: It's OK for me to share my music because I paid for it and I'm not making any money by sharing it.

Reality: Copyright owners get to set the number and price of copies to be distributed and sharing your music takes away that control from the copyright owner and cuts into their expected income. If you give away 20 copies of a song, the copyright owner will allege you've deprived her of 20 customers.

Myth #5: I'm perfectly safe using KaZaA, Gnutella or another P2P every once in a while to download a song or two, because I never share my music and that is what really catches the attention of the RIAA.

Reality: Many P2P services include a default setting to share all music in the folders into which you place your downloaded songs. So, while you think you're downloading one or two songs, you may actually be sharing your entire music collection with everyone logged onto your P2P service. Even if you somehow disable the uploading of your songs, the downloads you do can be caught by a scan.

Myth #6: I don't download music, only the occasional game or movie and those copyright owners don't send out complaints.

Reality: USF has received complaints for games, software, movies, TV shows, books, articles and websites. File-sharing any copyrighted work without permission is risky.

Myth #7: USF doesn't care too much if I file-share and so if I do get caught, I won't get into too much trouble.

Reality: USF complies with all copyright laws and the Recording Industry is getting more aggressive in their prosecutions. You run the risk of discipline at USF.