Illegal Use of Copyrighted Materials

by Noel Laam

The entire CityU community is reminded once again of the University's commitment to the protection of intellectual property and copyrighted material. The Computing Services Centre (CSC), as the administrator of the campus network, will take all necessary actions (e.g., blocking the network connection or computer account, disciplinary action, etc.) against any user who is found performing illegal copying of digital materials on the campus network - whether music, video, text, or pictures.

Moreover, those local and international organisations that are charged with protecting copyrighted materials or are actually the owners of those copyrighted materials (e.g. the Mediaforce, the Motion Picture Association (MPA), and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (Hong Kong) Limited etc.) are aggressively searching for copyright violators on the Internet and will take independent legal action against such violators. They can discover and monitor these activities by simply participating in the same peer-to-peer file sharing activity as the violators. These industry associations have, in the past, successfully prosecuted many violators, and as a result, received substantial monetary compensations from them.

It is obvious that the actions taken by these organisations did not target at the University, but rather at the individuals engaged in such violations. These organisations are allowed to find out the identities of copyright violators from Internet service providers (including universities) as long as they follow certain legal procedures. As such, the University, upon legitimate requests from these organizations, is obliged to respond to them with the names of those violators who are on the campus network.

The result may well be that the organisations will take legal action against these violators and there is really nothing the University can do to shield them from such action. Staff or students who use any computer, including those owned by the University, for such activity expose both themselves and potentially the University to legal action.

In some cases, computers can be compromised, and subsequently being turned into servers serving illegal copyright protected materials without computer owners' knowledge. If you suspect that your computer has become one of such servers (often indicated by excessive disc activity when it is connected to the network, your having received a network bandwidth warning when you do little network activity, or by the machine inexplicably slowing down), please contact us at

Please also note that most peer-to-peer file sharing programs act as a server by default and in some cases (BitTorrent, for example) their ability to share file among users cannot be disabled. If you are downloading copyright protected materials, there is a very good chance that you are also distributing copyright protected materials.

Therefore, to protect yourself and the University, make sure you won't engage in the sharing or use of illegal copyrighted materials, and never share your account or the computer registered under your name with others for engaging in these activities.