Computer Security: downloading films is no peccadillo

Dear Summer Students, within the Organization, you have many possibilities to pursue your natural curiosity and acquire as much new knowledge as you can siphon into your brain. CERN provides you with the academic freedom to do so, with almost no limitations. But hold on: “free” and “no limitations” don’t mean that you can do whatever you want…


Please note that, when using CERN’s computing facilities, when sending e-mails from your CERN e-mail address, when using your laptop/smartphone/computer, you must follow a basic framework of rules, the CERN Computing Rules. I would like to focus on one particular aspect of those rules: that of accessing music, videos, films or computer games from popular websites like ThePirateBay or using Bittorrent. 

CERN has an awesome connection to the Internet, lots of bandwidth and a high capacity for web downloads. However, this does not mean that downloading music, videos, films or computer games is permitted. It is not - basically for two reasons: the first is that CERN’s network is primarily for professional purposes and such downloads are not usually work-related. More important, however, are the legal aspects of such downloads: the downloading of copyrighted material, or at least the sharing thereof, is against the law in many European countries. Copyright violation is no trivial offence. It is no peccadillo!

In the past, CERN has received cease-and-desist letters from major entertainment labels pointing us to individual users who have violated copyright in this way. This is not only embarrassing for the Organization and damages its reputation but can also have financial consequences for the perpetrator (see our Bulletin article “Do you have 30 kCHF pocket money?”). Hence, copyright violations are not tolerated at all by the Organization and will result in administrative measures as consequences to you (plus the financial liabilities).

In order to spare you and us from that mess, please make sure that your Bittorrent clients are disabled before you connect to CERN’s wired or wireless networks. Please refrain from visiting illegal download portals for music, videos/films and computer games while being connected via CERN. Instead, take advantage of commercial solutions like Steam, iTunes, Netflix, MyVideo… And one final word: please also refrain from browsing porn pages. We usually register such access and a notification to you might make you feel embarrassed and awkward.

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by Stefan Lueders, Computer Security Team