Judicial Affairs
Illegal Downloading/Copyright Infringement

Ethical Use of Computing Resources Policy

Fort Hays State University (FHSU) provides computing resources and worldwide network access to its faculty, staff, and students for legitimate administrative, educational, and research efforts. As a member of the FHSU electronic community it is your responsibility to use computing resources ethically and responsibly. Members of the FHSU electronic community are expected to exercise reasonable care in the utilization of FHSU information systems or their components.

There are limitations on the amount of privacy that can be expected for individuals utilizing computer resources. Complaints or exceptional circumstances may result in investigation. The Electronic Communications Act of 1986 provides no protection for employees using company online systems. Users should exercise extreme caution in using e-mail to communicate confidential or sensitive matters, and should not assume that e-mail is private and confidential. It is especially important that users are careful to send messages only to the intended recipient(s). Particular care should be taken when using the "reply" command during e-mail correspondence. Because of the contents of such an e-mail are subject to laws governing public records, users will need to exercise judgment in sending content that may be deemed confidential. Furthermore, e-mail transmissions may not be secure, and contents that are expected to remain confidential should not be communicated via e-mail. Common examples of confidential contents include: student grades, personnel records, individual donor gift records, and data subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations, and the Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA).

In making appropriate use of the FHSU computing resources, users must accept the responsibility for their behavior and:

  • Protect their user IDs and passwords from unauthorized use, recognizing that individuals are responsible for all activities on his/her user IDs.
  • Access only files and data that they own, they have been given authorization for, or that are publicly available.
  • Use only legal versions of copyrighted software in compliance with vendor license requirements.
  • Be considerate in their use of shared resources. Refrain from monopolizing systems, overloading networks with excessive data (spamming), and wasting computer time, connect time, disk space, printer paper and toner, and other computing resources.
  • Be cautious about e-mail messages because the information is public and may be retrieved and used in a court of law.
  • Comply in all respects with any request by the university to retain certain information, recognizing that information stored on the university's network is ultimately the responsibility of the university.

Individuals Will Not...
In making appropriate use of computing resources, individuals should avoid:

  • Accessing another person's files or data without permission.
  • Using computer programs to decode passwords or access control information.
  • Engaging in any activity that might be harmful to systems or to any information stored thereon, such as creating or propagating viruses, worms, Trojan horses, or disrupting services, spamming, or damaging files.
  • Making or using illegal copies of copyrighted software or other copyrighted materials (such as digitized artistic productions and music or video files), store such copies on FHSU systems, or transmit them over FHSU networks.
  • Using e-mail or message services to harass, intimidate, threaten, or otherwise annoy another person by use of sexual or bigoted content which poses an imminent threat of life or safety of the person or persons receiving the communication.
  • Disclosing their passwords or using another person's user IDs or passwords.
  • Using FHSU systems for commercial use, such as performing work for profit or advertising in a manner not authorized by FHSU.
  • Posting web pages that contain material that is illegal or promotes illegal activity (e.g. gambling or child pornography).
  • Masking the identity of an account or machine. This includes sending mail that appears to come from someone else.
  • Using computer and telecommunications systems for personal use (as regulated by Kansas law and regulations on misuse of state property; see KSA 75-2949 F(d) and the State Department of Administration policy on Internet use).

Use of E-mail for FHSU Business
The official Fort Hays State University E-mail Account is the only electronic mail platform for communicating university business. Official e-mail communications are intended only to meet the academic and administrative needs of the campus community. All electronic notifications from the university are transmitted through this e-mail account and are not forwarded to other non-FHSU e-mail accounts. Users are expected to read, and shall be presumed to have received and read, all Fort Hays State University e-mail messages sent to their Official Fort Hays State University e-mail accounts. The university expects that such communications will be received and read in a timely fashion.

Assignment of Student E-mail
Official university e-mail accounts are available for all enrolled students. The addresses are all of the form [Name]@mail.fhsu.edu. These accounts must be activated before the university can correspond with its students using the official e-mail accounts. An account website available through the TigerTracks Portal has been designed for this purpose. Students' official e-mail addresses will be included in directory information. As with other directory information, any student may request that access to his or her official e-mail address be restricted.

Expectations about Student use of E-mail
Students are expected to check their e-mail on a frequent and consistent basis in order to stay current with university-related communications. Students have the responsibility to recognize that certain communications may be time critical. Failure to check e-mail, error in forwarding mail, or e-mail returned to the university with "Mailbox Full" or "User Unknown" are not acceptable excuses for missing Official university communications via e-mail.

Educational Uses of E-mail
Faculty will determine ow electronic forms of communication such as electronic mail will be used in their classes, and will specify their requirements in the course syllabus. This will ensure that all students will be able to comply with e-mail-based course requirements specified by faculty. Faculty can therefore make the assumption that students' official FHSU accounts are being accessed.

Redirecting of E-mail
If a student wishes to have e-mail redirected from their official FHSU address to another e-mail address such as @aol.com, @hotmail.com, or an address on a departmental server, they may do so, but at their own risk. The university will not be responsible for the handling of e-mail by outside vendors or by departmental servers. Having e-mail redirected does not absolve a student from the responsibilities associated with official communication sent to his or her FHSU account.

Authentication for Confidential Information
It is a violation of university policies for any user of official e-mail addresses to impersonate a university office, faculty/staff member, or student. To minimize this risk, some confidential information may be made available only through the password-protected Tiger Tracks Portal. In these cases, students will receive e-mail correspondence directing them to the appropriate Tiger Tracks Portal link, where they can access the confidential information only by supplying their student ID and personal identification number (PIN). The confidential information will not be available in the e-mail message.

Consequence of Misuse
Individuals who misuse FHSU computing resources will be held accountable for their conduct, which may include discipline under the Student Code of Conduct or Faculty Handbook.

Academic Freedom
No provision of this policy shall be construed so as to impose any limit to the academic freedom of faculty in their instructional, research, or service activities.

Illegal Downloading
Some people seem to believe that if you can get something for free, it must be all right. However, this is not the case with Internet piracy. Downloading copyrighted materials, such as music, videos, games, graphics, and information has become one of the most controversial issues on the Internet. Fort Hays State University does not permit such types of illegal downloads. Approximately 100 violations occurred at FHSU during the Fall 2007 semester. Most violations were due to illegal downloads of music, and some were movies. When notified of these copyright infringements, the university must take action in order to comply with the federal law. First, the source's Internet access is revoked. Second, the student is required to meet with the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs to learn about the actions that must be taken to resolve the situation and have his or her Internet access restored.

Here is a list of actions YOU can take to avoid violating copyright law and FHSU acceptable use policies:

  • Access only files and data that you own, have been given authorization for, or that are publicly available.
  • Use only legal versions of copyrighted software in compliance with vendor license requirements.
  • Do NOT make or use illegal copies of copyrighted software or other copyrighted materials (such as digitized artistic productions and music or video files), store such copies on FHSU systems, or transmit them over FHSU networks.
  • Take advantage of sites that offer free music, clip art, photos, and graphics, etc... If you are not sure whether an image is free, request permission from the source before downloading or copying it.
  • Whenever using a program to download music or movies, read the fine print. Some programs have fees for faster uploads--however, the user is not paying for the music itself, which usually results in illegal downloads. If a deal seems too good to be true--it probably is.
  • If you have any doubt about whether your intended media use is legal, DON'T DOWNLOAD.

See the following references for more information:
FHSU Acceptable Use of Computing Resources Policy

Recording Industry Association of America

Entertainment Software Association

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998:

Copyright Education Presentation, by the Picture Archive Council of America:

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