Your browser does not support JavaScript

Use of Computer and Network Resources

No one may use a computer and/or the network in a way that would damage or inappropriately degrade these resources, or disrupt the work of others. Students are prohibited from attempting to:

  1. Interfere with the work of others
  2. Gain unauthorized access to computer or network resources
  3. Circumvent or violate local network, electronic accounts, or web security systems
  4. Use other people’s Harvard Law School electronic accounts
  5. Damage or inappropriately degrade performance of computer and network resources
  6. Willfully misrepresent the identifying attributes of any electronic communications (e.g., date and time of creation or transmission, message identification number, IP address, etc.)
  7. Unlawfully use, duplicate, or distribute software and files
  8. Use computer or network resources for commercial purposes without authorization
  9. Use computer or network resources in violation of any applicable law or Harvard Law School policy

In addition to possible disciplinary action and/or termination of network privileges, the violation of any of these restrictions may result in legal penalties.

Users are responsible for the use of their electronic accounts (e.g., email, network, course web sites, and printing) and are not permitted to grant others access to these accounts. Nor should you disclose your password to anyone, including your friends or family. ITS staff will not ask for your password when ITS assistance is requested, unless absolutely necessary. ITS does not share users’ passwords.

Compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998

The University prohibits the use of the Harvard network for illegal activities. Federal law prohibits the reproduction, distribution, public display or public performance of copyrighted materials over the Internet without permission of the copyright holder, except in accordance with fair use or other specifically applicable statutory exceptions. Harvard may terminate the network access of users who are found to have repeatedly infringed the copyrights of others. In addition, unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject a student to civil and criminal liabilities. Harvard complies fully with the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (“DMCA”) and has in place the mandated process for receiving and tracking alleged incidents of copyright infringement.

Harvard network users should be aware of recent changes in the pre-subpoena notification approach employed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). These changes include notices requesting the preservation of records in advance of a subpoena, and notices providing an option for users to settle in advance of potential lawsuits. University policy remains unchanged. We will continue to comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and federal law pertaining to DMCA subpoenas, and will continue to update the community of significant changes to process or law.

The University is committed to maintaining the integrity and availability of the Harvard network for vital educational and research purposes for which it was designed. We recommend that all students become familiar with the laws pertaining to the use of digital material and to comply with federal law and University policy regarding use of copyrighted materials. More information may be found on Harvard’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act page.

BitTorrent, Gnutella, eDonkey, and other filesharing programs can transmit files on a student’s computer to others in violation of copyright laws, with or without the student’s knowledge. If these programs are on a student’s computer, he or she will be held responsible for any copyright violations that may result.

Security and Privacy

Electronic communications, communicative attributes of electronic communications (e.g., date and time of transmission, subject, identification number, parties with whom a student communicates, how often, etc.), and files stored on Harvard Law School servers will be kept confidential in accordance with privacy policies set by Harvard Law School, Harvard University, and by law.

Effective March 31, 2014, Harvard established a policy that sets out guidelines and processes for University access to user electronic information stored in or transmitted through any University system. This policy applies to all Schools and units of the University and can be found at: Policy On Access to Electronic Information.

Users should understand that no network is perfectly secure, and that there are substantial risks that communications can be intercepted, or that any message intended for one person can be easily forwarded to another by the recipient. Users should take care that particularly sensitive documents not remain on computer or network systems that are publicly accessible or that others may easily access. Likewise, users are responsible prior to forwarding a message for ensuring that doing so is consistent with the originator’s reasonable expectations.

Network-based system activity, such as network connection and email message transmission, is automatically logged on a continuous basis. These logs include a record of user processes, message subjects, and other user-related data that may be examined by ITS system administrators to maintain system performance and/or prevent damage or degradation, or to ensure compliance with Harvard Law School guidelines. ITS also maintains regular backups of network servers, including email messages and files. The purpose of these backups is to restore the system in case of data loss due to a system crash. These backups are subject to the same privacy protections as any network data, but also, obviously, present additional risk.

System administrators, following University guidelines, will produce any available log records, messages, and files at the request of the Dean for Administration, Dean of Students, or the Administrative Board.

When you do request assistance from ITS, you implicitly give the staff permission to view the data in your account or on your computer to the extent necessary to investigate, diagnose, or correct the problem you are having, and ITS staff will make reasonable efforts to alert you to the anticipated and actual scope of any such viewing.

Anonymous and Pseudonymous Communications

The rules governing whether electronic communications may be anonymous or pseudonymous are determined by the particular context within which the communication occurs, and the violation of such rules may result in disciplinary action. Three general rules, however, govern all electronic communications:

  1. Electronic communication systems, whether email or discussion groups, produce records that facilitate the ability to trace such communications. These records may not in all cases reveal the identity of the sender, but they do facilitate the identification of a particular communication’s origin. You are prohibited from modifying this data in a manner that will interfere with the ability to trace a communication.
  2. Members of the Law School community are given accounts based on their legal names; you may not take steps to hide your identity in electronic communication when using Law School accounts, computers, networks or servers.
  3. In no context may you fraudulently misrepresent your identity.

Misuse of Resources

In accordance with “Rights and Responsibilities” written in Appendix A of the Harvard Law School Catalog, the Law School neither endorses nor censors any opinion expressed on, or originated on, its computer systems or network. However, because the electronic communications originating from Harvard Law School community automatically carry the Harvard Law School domain name (“”), you should be particularly careful not to inaccurately identify yourself as representing or speaking for the institution. More generally, in the use of email or other electronic communication, the same standards of conduct governing the use of telephones, oral, and written communication apply. You may not use email to broadcast messages or “spam” the Harvard Law School community.

As with any Law School resource, “misuse” includes the theft or deliberate damage of any Harvard Law School equipment or resource. With regard to Harvard Law School computer and network resources, it also includes other activities that interfere with the efficient and reliable provision of computer and network services. Included are the following specific prohibitions:

  1. You may not relocate or disassemble any Harvard Law School network, computer or peripheral equipment.
  2. You may not connect your computer to a network port (data jack) unless your computer is assigned to that port or the port is designated as “roaming.”
  3. You may not attempt to intercept, analyze, record, or tamper with network data packets.
  4. A student may not connect non-ITS network equipment to the Harvard Law School network. This includes, but is not limited to routers and wireless access points.

Emergency Situations and Compliance with Account Quotas

In any situation that threatens system security, stability, integrity, or performance, ITS system administrators will take necessary action to defend computer and network resources. These defense measures may include terminating or suspending processes or user accounts without prior notice. ITS will notify affected user(s) as soon as feasible. A situation may be deemed an emergency situation with or without deliberate misconduct.

All users are expected to adhere to the specific usage quotas that govern Harvard Law School accounts. Repeated failure to act upon ITS requests regarding such quotas may result in files or messages being deleted from over-quota accounts.

Copyright and Software Licenses

All Harvard users must respect the copyrights in works that are accessible through computers connected to the Harvard network. Federal copyright law prohibits the reproduction, distribution, public display or public performance of copyrighted materials without permission of the copyright owner, unless fair use or another exemption under copyright law applies. In appropriate circumstances, Harvard will terminate the network access of users who are found to have repeatedly infringed the copyrights of others, and may also take disciplinary action.

Users may not install software on Harvard owned and operated computers without evidence of a valid software license or other right or privilege to install such software.

Cases of Misconduct

Whenever a case of misconduct is suspected by or reported to ITS, ITS will immediately notify the person or persons accused of such misconduct and the appropriate supervisory authority, such as the Dean of Students or the Dean for Administration. As the situation warrants, the supervisory authority will determine the course of any investigation or disciplinary action. After such notification and while any inquiry is pending, ITS has the right to deny access to Harvard Law School equipment and network services to any person or persons believed to be violating the guidelines set forth here.

In addition to possible disciplinary action on the part of the Harvard Law School and/or termination of network privileges, misuse of electronic communications, use of computers for unlawful purposes, and violations of copyright laws carry civil and criminal penalties under Massachusetts and federal law. All users are expected to learn and abide by these laws. Harvard’s policy is to cooperate with law enforcement officials in the detection, investigation, and prosecution of unlawful activity. Unless lawfully prohibited by the authorities, you will be notified if information specific to your account or communications is turned over to non-Harvard authorities.

Requirements on leaving Harvard Law School

Before you leave Harvard Law School, you must remove all software for which the license belongs to Harvard Law School that is installed on your personally owned computer(s).