Usage Policy


Use of Computer and Network Resources

  1. The Law School community should use the network with respect and care. Unacceptable use of the network should be avoided. Unacceptable use includes:
  2. Interfering with the work of others
  3. Gaining unauthorized access to computer or network resources
  4. Circumventing or violating local network, electronic accounts, or web security systems
  5. Using Law School electronic accounts of others
  6. Damaging or inappropriately degrading performance of computer and network resources
  7. Willfully misrepresenting the identifying attributes of your electronic communications (e.g., date and time of creation or transmission, message identification number, IP address, etc.)
  8. Unlawfully using, duplicating, or distributing software and files
  9. Using computer or network resources for commercial purposes without authorization, or
  10. Using computer or network resources in violation of any applicable law or Law School regulation
  11. Installing any kind of wired networking equipment such as a router or firewall that can hide the identity of machines behind them
  12. Installing any kind of wireless network equipment including wireless routers or wireless firewalls that can provide wireless services and hide the identity of machines connecting to them.

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

You are responsible for the use of your electronic accounts (e.g., e-mail, 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. The staff of the Information Technology Services (ITS) department will not ask you for your password when ITS assistance is requested, unless absolutely necessary. ITS does not share your password.

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Security and Privacy

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

ITS maintains regular backups of network servers, including e-mail 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.

In the normal course of official duties, ITS system administrators have access to all data on the system, including contents of e-mail messages and communicative attributes. While ITS policy is to avoid coming into contact with or reading any communications, ITS system administrators may if absolutely necessary come into contact with or read communications in order to ensure proper operation of network resources; the most common circumstance in which this contact occurs is during an attempt to deliver a misrouted message. System administrators 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.

The use of encryption to secure the contents of one's communications or files is permitted.

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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, and may not be locally modified without the expressed curriculum-related permission of the relevant Law School faculty member:

  1. Electronic communication systems, whether e-mail 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 MyHLS, and e-mail 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.

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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 the 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 e-mail or other electronic communication, the same standards of conduct governing the use of telephones and oral and written communication apply. You may not use e-mail to broadcast messages or "spam" the Law School community.

As with any Law School resource, "misuse" includes the theft or deliberate damage of any Law School equipment or resource. With regard to 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 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.

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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. Emergency situations may or may not involve 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.

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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.

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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 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 Law School and/or termination of your 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.

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Departure from Harvard Law School

Before you leave the Law School, you must remove all Law School site-licensed software that you have installed on your personally owned computer(s).

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Last modified: August 25, 2008

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