Computer Use Policies

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  • I. Introduction

    This acceptable use policy governs the use of computers and networks at the University of Miami School of Law. As a user of these resources, you are responsible for reading and understanding this document. This document protects the consumers of computing resources, computing hardware and networks, and system administrators.

    Computer facilities and infrastructure are provided for meeting academic goals and to provide access to local, national, and international facilities to aid in the achieving of those goals. Those using the facilities and services must respect the intellectual and access rights of others locally, nationally, and internationally. Students should be aware that any use of the facilities or infrastructure that is in violation of the guidelines listed below may be considered an Honor Code violation.

    The School of Law is committed to intellectual and academic freedom and to the application of those freedoms to computer media and fora. The School of Law is also committed to protecting the privacy and integrity of computer data and records belonging to the School of Law and to individual users.

  • II. Rights and Responsibilities

    Computers and networks can provide access to resources on and off campus, including the ability to communicate with other users worldwide. Such open access is a privilege, much like access to books in the library, and requires that individual users act responsibly. The School of Law is committed to protecting the rights of students, faculty, and staff to freedom of expression and to free academic inquiry and experimentation. Users must respect the rights of other users, respect the integrity of the systems and related physical resources, and observe all relevant laws, regulations, and contractual obligations. Because electronic information is volatile and easily reproduced, users must exercise care in acknowledging and respecting the work of others through strict adherence to software licensing agreements and copyright laws.

  • III. Existing Legal Context

    All existing laws (federal and state) and University regulations, policies, and standards of professionalism and civility apply, including not only those that are specific to computers and networks, but also those that may apply generally to personal conduct. These include but are not limited to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (Title 20 U.S.C. section1232[g]), the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (Title 18 U.S.C. section 2510 et. seq.), and the Florida Computer Crimes Act (FS Chap. 815). Illegal reproduction of software and other intellectual property protected by U.S. copyright law is subject to civil damages and criminal punishment including fines and imprisonment. The UM School of Law supports the policy of EDUCOM on "Software and Intellectual Rights".

    Users do not own accounts on University computers, but are granted the privilege of exclusive use of their accounts. Use of the network does not alter the ownership of data stored on the network. Users are entitled to privacy regarding their computer communications and stored data. However, system administrators may access user files in the normal course of their employment when necessary to protect the integrity of computer systems or the rights or property of the University or other users. For example, system administrators may examine or make copies of files that are suspected of misuse or that have been corrupted or damaged. Copies of all user files stored on the network are routinely backed up for disaster recovery purposes.

    Subject to the exceptions set out above, users have reason to expect the same level of privacy in personal files on the Law School's computers (e.g. files in a user's home directory) as users have in any other space assigned to them by the Law School (e.g. a locker or an office). Private communications by computer are entitled to the same degree of privacy as private communications via telephone. User files may be subject to search by law enforcement agencies or under court order if such files contain information which may be used as evidence in a court of law.

    Other organizations operating computing and network facilities that are reachable via the UM School of Law network may have their own policies governing the use of those resources. When accessing remote resources from UM School of Law facilities, users are responsible for obeying both the policies set forth in this document and the policies of the other organizations.

    In addition to possible federal and state legal controls, and applicable University and School of Law policies and procedures, misuse of computing, networking, or information resources may result in the loss of computing and/or network access.

  • IV. Conduct That Violates this Policy

    Conduct that violates this policy includes, but is not limited to, the activities in the following list.

    • Use of a computer account that belongs to another person or department, except for diagnostic testing by an authorized member of the Computer Resources Department.
    • Use of accounts in such as way as would violate the School of Law's contracts with data service providers (e.g. use of an academic Lexis or Westlaw account as a research tool in the course of employment outside the law school).
    • Giving access to a computer account, through sharing of passwords or otherwise, to any person other than the assigned user or an authorized member of the Computer Resources staff. Project or group accounts must be approved by the Computer Resources Department prior to use.
    • Using the Network to gain unauthorized access to any computer system.
    • Connecting unauthorized equipment to the network for purposes inconsistent with the academic purposes of the law school.
    • Unauthorized attempts to circumvent data protection schemes or uncover security loopholes. This includes creating and/or running programs that are designed to identify security loopholes and/or decrypt intentionally secure data.
    • Knowingly or recklessly performing an act that will interfere with the normal operation of computers, terminals, peripherals, or networks.
    • Knowingly or recklessly running or installing on any computer system or network, or giving to another user a program intended to damage or to place excessive load on a computer system or network. This includes, but is not limited to, programs known as computer virusesTrojan Horses and worms.
    • Deliberately wasting/overloading computing resources.
    • Violating terms of applicable software licensing agreements or copyright laws.
    • Violating copyright laws and their fair use provisions through inappropriate reproduction or dissemination of copyrighted text, images, etc.
    • Using system resources to harass, threaten, defraud, or otherwise harm another. This includes sending repeated, unwanted e-mail or talk requests to another user.
    • Initiating or propagating electronic chain letters.
    • Inappropriate mass mailing or talk requests such as multiple mailings to newsgroups, mailing lists, or individuals, e.g. "spamming," "flooding," "bombing" or "snerting".
    • Forging communications to make them appear to originate from another person.
    • Attempting to monitor or tamper with another user's electronic communications, or reading, copying, changing, or deleting another user's files or software without the express agreement of the other user.

  • V. Enforcement

    The system administrator is responsible for protecting the system and users from abuses of this policy. Pursuant to this duty, the system administrator may informally or formally communicate with offending parties. In more extreme cases, the system administrator may temporarily revoke or modify use privileges. Temporary suspension decisions are reviewable by the system administrator's supervisor(s) and ultimately the Dean and/or the Dean's designee.

    In addition, offenders may be referred to their supervisor, the Dean, or other appropriate disciplinary authority for further action. If the individual is a student, the matter may be referred to the Honor Council.

    Any offense that violates local, state, or federal laws may result in the immediate loss of all University computing privileges and may be referred to appropriate University disciplinary authorities and/or law enforcement authorities.

    This document is adapted, with permission, from the UC Davis Computer and Network Use Policy, ©1993-1995 Regents of the University of California. This is the current policy of the University of Miami School of Law.

    Hypertext links to documents other than the policy of EDUCOM on "Software and Intellectual Rights" are provided for informational purposes only and are not a formal part of this policy. Users are cautioned that they are expected to ensure that they have current information as the content of applicable law, rules, regulations and contractual obligations.

This document may be reproduced for any non-commercial use.