What is P2P file sharing? 

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) refers to a network protocol that allows users to share files with other users who are utilizing the same software. P2P can be used to quickly and easily share or download large files. There are a number of popular P2P protocols including Bittorrent, Fasttrack, eDonkey, and Gnutella.

Is P2P file sharing legal? 

While there are a number of legal uses of P2P networks, unfortunately a lot of the material that is shared/downloaded through P2P networks is copyrighted and is not obtained or provided legally. Unless you own the copyright on the works you share or are given express permission by the copyright owner it may be illegal to share or download copyrighted materials.

Are there risks to using P2P file sharing? 

There are a number of potential risks to using P2P. These include potential copyright infringement, for which you could lose access to the university network and/or be sued by the copyright owner. You could also have malware or viruses placed on your computer. It is also possible to accidentally share personal information if you do not properly set up your account. The resources below provide more information on the risks of P2P and some precautions to take when using P2P networks.

Peer to Peer File Sharing: The Office of the CIO provides information on the safe use and risks of P2P software.

P2P File-Sharing Risks:, a cooperative of a number of Federal Government agencies, has created this resource to explain the potential dangers of using P2P software.

Where can I find more information on file sharing? 

If you would like to find out more about P2P file sharing, there are many helpful resources available:

File Sharing from The Electronic Frontier Foundation: The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has a collection of articles about file sharing including information on recent court cases and proposed legislation.

A University Computer Users' Guide to Peer-to-Peer File Sharing: P2P FAQs from the University of Arizona.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) File Sharing & Copyright Safety: Helpful P2P information from Indiana University.

OSU’s policies: Find more information regarding OSU’s policies on file-sharing and safe use of the computer network.

DISCLAIMER: The information on these web pages and that received from Copyright Services at OSU Libraries and the Health Sciences Copyright Coordinator is not legal advice, nor is either office legal counsel to the university or any members of the university community.