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Policy 5.7
Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Policy

Responsible Official: Enterprise CIO and Sr. Vice Provost for Library Services and Digital Scholarship
Administering Division/Department: LITS: Library & IT Services
Effective Date: March 31, 2007
Last Revision: July 07, 2017

Policy Sections:


This policy explains Emory’s official position on peer-to-peer file sharing utilities.


This policy applies to anyone using a peer-to-peer file sharing utility on the Emory network.

Policy Details


Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing is a method of sharing or distributing digital files over a network where each computer participating in the peer-to-peer file sharing network is allowed to act as either a client or server (or both). Using peer-to-peer file sharing software each participant is allowed to download or share files directly with one another, usually without the need for a dedicated central server. The peer-to-peer file sharing method may be utilized when no centralized file source is available, when participants wish to distribute the data transfer load, to increase the resiliency of distribution, or as a quick ad-hoc file sharing solution.  Unfortunately, due to its decentralized nature, peer-to-peer file sharing technologies are frequently implicated in the illegal sharing and distribution of copyrighted materials such as digital music and movie files.

Restrictions on Usage

The official Emory position on peer-to-peer file sharing utilities such as BitTorrent, Gnutella, etc. is as follows:

  • Peer-to-peer file sharing software itself is not illegal, nor is it banned at Emory. However, to reduce the interest in attackers acquiring unauthorized access to Emory systems and to help ensure accountability for peer-to-peer file sharing activities, peer-to-peer protocols are blocked by default on all Emory networks.
  • Those wishing to use peer-to-peer applications, outside of ResNet (Emory’s Residential Network), for legitimate academic or business functions may request an exception to this policy.
  • ResNet is not intended to enable Emory students to be Internet content providers. Therefore, all non-Emory users are blocked from connecting to computers on ResNet. Students using computers connected to ResNet can still send and receive email across the Internet, browse the web, and download applications or files. However, non-Emory users will not be allowed to connect to computers on ResNet to download applications or files. Computers on ResNet are likewise prohibited from serving web pages or accepting ftp connections from non-Emory computers.
  • Users of peer-to-peer applications on the Emory network are required to utilize such applications in a legal and ethical manner.
    • Users must not download or share copyrighted material for which they do not have explicit permission from the copyright holder. Emory abides by applicable laws regarding copyrights and copyright infringement, including handling infringement complaints received from copyright holders.
    • The Emory high-speed network is a shared resource provided for uses consistent with the University’s missions of teaching, learning, research, and service and for related administrative support. Individuals must not abuse this resource by generating high volumes of network traffic that negatively impact the performance of the network or otherwise impede its use by others.


  • Failure to comply with this policy may have legal consequences and may result in:
    • Suspension or termination of access;
    • Disciplinary actions (up to and including termination of employment) in accordance with applicable university policy.


Related Links

Contact Information

Clarification of policy  Brad Sanford  404-727-2630  brad.sanford@emory.edu 

Revision History

  • Version Published on: Jul 07, 2017 (Updated sanctions language)
  • Version Published on: Mar 13, 2016
  • Version Published on: Mar 15, 2011 (Revised to reflect current operational practices.)
  • Version Published on: Mar 29, 2007 (Original Publication)