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Student FAQs

Computer Use Rules

What are the Computer and Network Use Policies and Procedures?

Columbia University's Computing and Technology policies apply to everyone using its Information Resources. To assist the CUMC community understand and comply with these, there are summaries including specific procedures related to CUMC IT support and resources in the IT Procedures and Guidelines area of the CUMC IT site. These include:

See the List of IT Procedures and Guidelines for all topics.

Can I use Peer to Peer Software?

Peer-to-peer software is prohibited on computers and devices that transmit, store or access sensitive data. This includes, but is not limited to, Vuze, uTorrent, Deluge and others. If you still feel compelled to run such software, at least consider taking the following steps:
  • Do not share files from your workstation. By default, Peer to Peer software will automatically share any files you have downloaded yourself. This makes your workstation a distribution point. Most of the popular P2P software makes it easy to disable outbound file sharing.
  • Ensure that your computer is not acting as a "Super Node". Most Peer to Peer software will detect a high speed connection and automatically make your workstation a Super Node. These are collection points for searches and software distribution within a particular area on the network. This will greatly reduce your own bandwidth and also cause more traffic to be generated and received by your workstation.
  • Many trojans and malware are spread on these peer to peer networks. Downloading files from unknown sources is a huge risk to the safety of your computer and data.

The University and the Hospital Network Groups have adopted rules to restrict outbound bandwidth per IP address to a total of 2 Mb/s total persistent bandwidth and will automatically disable a workstation violating this rule.

You should also consider the following question regarding Copyright Protected Material.

What about Copyright Protected Material?

Possession and / or distribution of Copyright Protected Material and Intellectual Property is strictly prohibited without the express written consent of the owner. See the Copyright Compliance page in the IT Procedures and Guidelines area of the CUMC IT site.

Commercial software programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office and Symantec Endpoint are protected by US and International Copyright and Patent laws. Music, commonly downloaded or distributed on CDs and shared over the Internet as MP3 files, is usually protected under these laws. Images, pictures, motion pictures and movies are also protected by similar laws. Sharing of all such copyrighted material is strictly prohibited unless you have written authorization to distribute it.

Even if you have the right to possess and / or distribute such property, it may be against Hospital or University policies covering acceptable use or bandwidth abuse.

If you have questions regarding these issues, we ask that you to refer to local, state, federal and international laws for help with these issues. Minimally, carefully read the copyright statements contained in most software packages, music and motion picture media.

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Last updated 8/10/2018