Copyright and Information Security*
Associate Vice President for Computing and Chief Technology Officer
As members of an
academic institution, UNT's employees respect the rights of authors and
artists to benefit from the fruits of their labors. Thus we do not
tolerate plagiarism nor do we tolerate the taking of intellectual
property of others without permission or without compensation to the
owners of the property. U.S. copyright laws govern how intellectual
property may be fairly used in an educational setting as well what
penalties may be levied against persons or companies that violate
copyright protections. Fines for the illegal distribution of copyrighted
materials can go up to $250,000, accompanied by five years in prison.
A major copyright problem in the U.S. now is the illegal sharing of
music and films over the Internet. Academic institutions are being
singled out by copyright owners for allowing illegal file sharing to
occur on campuses. Here at UNT, we currently receive several notices per
month from copyright owners asking us to take actions to prevent file
sharing by persons on campus or in our dorms. We've put protections in
place to block the known transmission of copyrighted files such as MP3
files of popular songs from our dorms, but those protections aren't
foolproof nor do we have similar protections on the rest of UNT's
While the vast majority of UNT's
faculty, staff, and students abide by copyright laws, it's still
necessary to remind everyone on campus of our responsibilities to
refrain from sharing copyrighted materials without permission. It's also
of note that such sharing is very likely to be detected by copyright
holders and persons caught doing so can face costly fines. In short, do
not share copyrighted materials without permission from the copyright
The campus is bombarded each day with attempts over the
Internet to break into secure sites on campus, including our desktops,
and by doing so to steal protected information. Here are three tips that
will help you protect UNT as well as yourself from those attempts:
Don't store sensitive information such as Social
Security Account Numbers or credit card numbers of students on your
personal computer or office computer. If that information along with
the names of the account holders are stolen, UNT must report the
breach to the individuals whose information was divulged but more
importantly such theft exposes the affected individuals to potential
Email is a common way to spread viruses and worms
and thus to steal information. Don't click on links embedded in
e-mail messages that you receive from persons whom you don't know
and trust. Such links are the most common ways that thieves inject
viruses into your computer.
If you're responsible for a Web site, make sure that
you're not capturing and storing personal information such as SSAN's
or credit card numbers on the site. If you really have to do that,
be sure to contact your network manager or the
team to have them check on the security of your site before
starting the collection of data.
Thanks for your cooperation in making UNT secure.
*October is "National
cyber security awareness month." Visit the
website and check out the information at the bottom of the page
labeled "Required reading
for UNT Faculty, Staff, and Students ( Required reading for
handlers of sensitive information )." Also, check out the
InHouse Series on Information Security that ran this past spring.
Finally, if you are a student, you need to be aware that "Instructors at
the University of North Texas have access to Turnitin’s plagiarism
prevention system to deter plagiarism and promote academic integrity."
UNT Turnitin website for more information.
Additional information about cyber security can be found
at the EDUCAUSE Security Task Force
website. -- Ed.
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