These explanations are intended to help people, particularly students, understand the General Policy. They describe in a general way what is covered by the legal terms, and are certainly not intended to be adequate guides to the law.
Scholarly, literary, artistic, musical, dramatic and other types of intellectual property embodied in a tangible medium are protected by law from unauthorized use, publication, sale or reproduction. Work is protected even if it is not marked with a copyright notice. There are complex rules about what and how much can be copied.
Federal and State Laws
Federal and state laws make it illegal to hack into computer systems, disrupt or intercept communications, distribute computer viruses, commit fraud using a computer, or to use a computer to abuse, threaten, or harass another person . The two major federal laws are the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), 18 USC §2510 et seq. and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 USC §1030. Major Ohio state laws are ORC §2913.04 ("Unauthorized use of computer or telecommunication property") and ORC §2917.21 ("Telecommuncation harassment").
An example of a situation requiring joint (or shared) access is a departmental or program email address for inquires or applications from prospective students. More than one person may need to read and respond to these email messages. Most current systems allow accounts to be set up so that multiple people can access the email messages from their own accounts rather than by logging in to the common account. Unless this is impossible, users should not access common accounts directly.
Publication of false information that is injurious to the reputation of another is called libel and can be the basis of a lawsuit for damages. Internet communications (web pages and postings to newsgroups or mailing lists) are considered publications.
Obscenity, Pornography, and Child Pornography
Pornographic materials are those which appeal to prurient interests. When they go beyond the community standards, they may be classified as "obscene" and become illegal. The community standards that would be applied are not those of the University of Cincinnati or the Internet, but rather those of Hamilton County and perhaps other communities as well. There are separate laws covering pornography that portrays minors. The potential penalties are more severe and mere possession of child pornography is illegal.
Ohio Public Records Act
The Ohio Revised Code, §149.03, provides that public records are to be made available to the public upon request. Most general University records are considered to be public records. Student Education records are a major exception.
The major privacy law affecting educational institutions is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This law prohibits the University from disclosing more than directory information about students.
Student Code of Conduct
The Student Code of Conduct defines behavior expected of all University of Cincinnati students and the disciplinary procedures used in cases of misconduct. It can be found on the Web at http://www.uc.edu/conduct/Code_of_Conduct.html.
Trademarks and logos may not be used without the permission of the owner. This includes the use of the UC logos. For questions or information about the use of UC logos, contact the Licensing Program in the Office of General Counsel, telephone 513-556-3483.
The Virtual Campus
The term "virtual" refers to the metaphorical spaces created by computer networks. The University of Cincinnati now has a virtual campus that parallels the physical campuses in many ways. Students take courses that meet on the virtual campus instead of in regular classrooms. They study in the virtual library with electronic resources instead of reading books and journals printed on paper. There are also social and recreational activities on the virtual campus like those provided in student centers and athletic facilities. Most of the University offices now have counterparts on the virtual campus.
Acceptable use policies for computer systems are often intended to protect equipment. This policy uses the virtual campus metaphor deliberately to emphasize that the goal is not only to protect equipment, but also to insure that we treat each other according to established rules and customs governing behavior in our electronically mediated encounters. It is vitally important that the virtual campus be a safe and friendly place that facilitates the achievement of all members of the University community.