Although there are many legal uses of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing, P2P applications can also be used for illegal activities. The unauthorized file sharing of copyrighted materials is called infringement, and it is a violation of both federal copyright law and University of Arizona policy. Actual P2P file sharing is a form of distribution, one of the exclusive rights reserved for copyright owners. Whenever you copy and distribute copyrighted materials without the permission of the copyright owner, including music, films, graphics, games, software, publications, etc., you can be liable for copyright infringement.
Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.
Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $150,000 per offense.
Unauthorized P2P file sharing is also a violation of the University of Arizona's Student Code of Conduct and the Acceptable Use of Computers and Networks Policy agreed to by all network users before being granted an account. Such violations can lead to sanctions including termination of network access for multiple violations.