Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - Almanac Vol. 53, No. 23
Unprotected computers can be "stashes" for illegal material
One of the "hot button" topics in computing over the last several years has been the widespread downloading and sharing of digital media - music, movies, television, games, application software and more. At Penn, as at our peer institutions, there are incidents of copyrighted material being made publicly available on Penn computers, intentionally violating the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) and University policy. As a research institution that creates new knowledge, we are especially sensitive to the obligations of honoring all intellectual property rights. Penn students and employees found to be violating copyright are subject to disciplinary measures in addition to the possibility of legal action by the copyright holders.
There are occasions, however, when the computer in question has been compromised by means of virus infection or other exploit and is being used to "stash" the infringing and/or illegal material without the knowledge of the computer’s owner. If you receive a notice of copyright violation relating to a computer that you use that is attached to PennNet, and you believe that you are not intentionally sharing copyrighted material, you should contact your Local Support Provider (LSP) immediately and request that your computer be evaluated for signs of compromise or other security-related issues. The vast majority of Penn users do, of course, respect copyrights and do not illegally download and share material, but avoiding this situation is yet another reason to make sure that your computer is running anti-virus software that is regularly updated, has a personal firewall installed and in use, and that all operating system patches and upgrades are applied in a timely fashion. For information on how to do this, contact your LSP.