Be Aware You're Uploading Using Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Safely and Appropriately


BAYU Basics

Frequently Asked Questions

What and How?

  1. What is BAYU?

  2. BAYU (Be Aware You're Uploading) is an automated University of Michigan service that notifies users of university networks via e-mail that they might be unlawfully uploading using peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing technology.

  3. When BAYU is paying attention to what I send or receive on my computer, it feels like an invasion of privacy. Is it?

  4. No. The university does not look at either the content of file in question or the content on the computer's hard drive. It makes no judgment about whether the uploading activity is lawful or unlawful. It simply informs the user that it is happening.

  5. Wouldn't I know it already if I were uploading files?

  6. We've learned that because of the way P2P file-sharing software works, many users in fact do not know they're uploading. For example, the software on your machine can be uploading automatically without your setting it to do so. Moreover, even if you try to set uploading settings to "off", they can be turned back on without your knowledge in a variety of ways.

  7. Why did the university create BAYU?

  8. The university had two main reasons for creating BAYU:

    1. To address the problems caused by the fact that P2P technology makes it easy for you to upload unwittingly, and thus potentially to be breaking the law without even knowing it.
    2. To protect the university's computers and networks and to safeguard the privacy and identities of students. Careless or unwitting P2P file-sharing opens a computer to being infected by viruses and worms, or being taken over and used for someone else's purposes. Infected individual machines can, in turn, infect other machines in the university networks. Moreover, users may be exposing themselves to identity theft and may risk private materials being made public.

  9. What are the specific educational goals of the university for BAYU?

  10. There are three. The university seeks to help you:

    1. Avoid unwittingly uploading.
    2. Upload lawfully, if the uploading is intentional.
    3. Be mindful of the risks associated with using P2P technology.

  11. How does BAYU work?

  12. BAYU uses software that recognizes Internet-bound traffic within certain parameters that indicate uploading is taking place.

  13. Does this software affect my computer's performance?

  14. It does not affect the performance of either your computer or the university's networks.

  15. Will I have to download the BAYU program?

  16. No, it works automatically on the network, not on any individual machine.

  17. How long does the university keep the information it collects about me through BAYU?

  18. BAYU data that identifies you or any other specific user is kept the shortest time possible. The university will retain aggregated usage data for a longer period of time, but it's not possible to identify a specific individual from it.

  19. Will BAYU block my uploading activities?

  20. No, it informs and educates only.

  21. Will my e-mail box be flooded with BAYU messages?

  22. No. BAYU sends no more than one message per 24-hour period to any given IP address.

  23. If I am uploading lawfully, will I still get a message from BAYU?

  24. Yes. Remember, BAYU does not judge whether a particular uploading activity is lawful or unlawful.

  25. Can I opt out of BAYU?

  26. Yes, you can opt out for the rest of the term, once you've received a BAYU notice. However, you will probably want to think carefully before you do.

  27. When is it a good idea for me to opt out?

  28. If you are confident you understand the technology you are using and that your uses are lawful, opting out may be a good option for you. But it's very easy to upload unwittingly—and the consequences can be severe.

  29. How do I opt out if I decide to do so?

  30. Once you've received one BAYU notice, you'll be guided through the process.

Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

  1. What's the difference between uploading and downloading?

  2. Uploading and downloading are two terms used in computing to refer to data transfer. In brief, files are considered uploaded when they are transferred from a computer to a central server or the Internet. Files are downloaded when they are transferred from a server or the Internet to a smaller peripheral unit, such as a laptop or cell phone.

  3. Is it lawful to upload?

  4. It's perfectly lawful to upload your own original work. But uploading material that is copyrighted by someone else without permission is not. Unfortunately, your file-sharing software does not discriminate between content that is copyrighted and content that is not.

    It is lawful to download material that you've either purchased or obtained written permission to use.

  5. How can I be uploading without knowing it?

  6. There are a number of ways. Here are a few:

    • Many P2P applications come configured to upload, so if you do not specifically reconfigure the application to prevent uploading, you may upload unwittingly.
    • In some cases, these applications resume uploading automatically when you update the software. Several other resetting mechanisms exist that can cause uploading without your knowledge.
    • Some students reported that someone who used their computer installed the P2P software without telling them.
    • Still others succumbed to music downloading scams, where they believed they were paying for a legitimate service that instead turned their computers into file-sharing servers.

  7. How can I upload lawfully?

  8. Upload only material you have created or for which you have written permission to use.

  9. Is there a way to download digital works lawfully?

  10. Many companies sell electronic access to digital works, and you can purchase works through these vendors. There are also works in the public domain that are lawful for you to download. But you must still be careful to avoid unintentionally downloading unlawfully.

  11. Is it safe to use these companies?

  12. Many of these companies are perfectly safe. Unfortunately, some of them appear to be operating lawfully, but are not. Carefully research the company before you use its services.

  13. If I turn off uploading in my P2P program, have I eliminated the risk?

  14. No, it's not that simple. Some P2P applications can be reset to upload without your noticing it.

  15. If I follow the university's recommendations, am I assured of using my computer safely?

  16. Any time you have P2P file-sharing software on your computer, you are taking a risk, either of doing something unlawful, or of exposing your computer and the university's networks to viruses and malware. The university's recommendations educate you, but they do not guarantee your safety. Ultimately, you are responsible for your use of P2P technology.

  17. Is it a violation of university policy to have P2P software on my computer?

  18. No. There are many lawful and legitimate uses for P2P technology. But how you use the software may violate university policy or the law.

  19. Is it a violation of university policy to upload and download?

  20. No. There are many lawful and legitimate uses for uploading and downloading using P2P technology. But it is how and what you upload and download that may violate university policy or the law.

  21. If my use of P2P software on my computer is legitimate and lawful, how can I avoid the risks?

  22. If you use it, by definition, you are taking some risk. To mitigate the risk, you should understand how the technology works, monitor your use carefully, and learn about the laws and policies that govern its use.

Privacy and Ethics

  1. If BAYU can see my uploading activity, can others see it too?

  2. Yes. Your uploading activity is visible to everyone on the Internet that chooses to look. Unlike BAYU, many programs that look for uploading do examine the content of the uploading computer.

  3. Why does the university care about unlawful downloading of copyrighted material?

  4. It is a violation of university policy to engage in copyright infringement, including using P2P software to download copyrighted works.

  5. Does BAYU keep any record of any information stored on my computer?

  6. No.

  7. Will the university be required to share any collected information with the RIAA?

  8. Ordinarily, no. But the RIAA has filed and continues to file lawsuits against people it alleges have infringed the copyrights of its members. As part of their lawsuits and pursuant to a valid subpoena, the university has been compelled to produce information about individual users. But because BAYU is an educational program and because BAYU data will have no information about specific content uploaded or on a user's computer, it will likely be of little use in a lawsuit.

  9. Will I be in trouble with the university if BAYU identifies me lots of times?

  10. No. BAYU informs you so you can determine if your activities might lead to unpleasant and possibly costly consequences. It is an educational service, not an enforcement mechanism.

University of Michigan
©2009 The Regents of the University of Michigan