While the Internet is all about communication, sharing some information is illegal, which is just what someone has been doing and using the Shoreline Community College network to do it.
“We’ve received a notice that someone is accessing the Internet through the college network to share the HBO series ‘True Blood,’” Gary Kalbfleisch, director of Technology Support Services, said recently. “True Blood” is copyright-protected material and sharing it without permission is against federal law.
Known as peer-to-peer file sharing, the person is using the BitTorrent protocol to share the TV show about vampires. BitTorrent is a widely used file-sharing program and, by itself, not illegal.
Kalbfleisch said the college received a “DMCA takedown notice” that was first sent to the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges. DMCA stands for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which was passed in 1998. The law criminalizes the digital sharing of copyrighted material or even the attempt to get around copyright control.
The notice says, “We have received information leading us to believe that an individual has utilized the below-referenced IP address at the noted date and time to offer downloads of copyrighted television program(s) through a "peer-to-peer" service.”
Civil penalties for violations of the DMCA generally include fines which can become quite large. Criminal penalties are also possible and include fines or even imprisonment.
Kalbfleisch said the person responsible may not even know they are sharing the file. Programs like BitTorrent work by building and using a network of other computers to send files. Sometimes, viruses or malware can use the computers of unsuspecting owners to transfer files.
Kalbfleisch said that whether the person is doing it intentionally or not, they’ll find the source. “We have enough information that the next time they do it, we’ll know,” he said.