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Peer to Peer Networks


  1. What are Peer to Peer networks?

    Peer-to-peer networking (P2P) is an application that runs on a person's personal computer and shares files with other users across the Internet.

    P2P networks connect individual computers together to share files, instead of having to go through a central server.  Once a P2P application is installed on a personal computer, the computer, in effect, becomes a 'mini server' and people can start downloading files from it.  In the same way, a person can start downloading files from anybody else who is on-line and has the same application installed.

    Common uses for P2P files sharing include sharing music, pictures, movie files and other documents.

  2. How does this infringe copyright?

    Where the files being shared comprise of copyright material that belongs to someone else, then accessing that material and sharing it with others will be infringing the copyright owner's rights in that material.

    The act of making copyright material available on a server in a form in which it can be accessed by others, and the act of downloading material, are arguably exercises of copyright owner's rights of reproduction and communication to the public.

    The use of P2P to share or trade copyright works without the copyright owner's permission may give rise to an action for infringement of copyright.

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  3. Staff and student liability

    Staff or students who use P2P to make film or music available on-line without the permission of the copyright owner may be personally liable.  Students have been charged under the criminal offences of the Copyright Act for making hundreds of music files available to be downloaded.

    See 1.15: Liability of Schools and Individuals for Copyright Infringement for further information

  4. Educational institutions liability

    Where a staff member is acting within the course of his or her employment, the school or TAFE educational institution may be liable for any infringement, even where the staff member has been directed not to do that activity.

    Also, a school or TAFE may also be found liable for authorising the infringing conduct of its staff and students, where it has provided access to the equipment used to carry out the infringing conduct (personal computers, service providers and Internet access). Schools and TAFE institutes must take reasonable steps to ensure that their equipment is not used to infringe copyright.

    See 1.15: Liability of Schools and Individuals for Copyright Infringement for further information

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