Notice to Students: P2P and Copyright Infringement

Southern Utah University considers the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing of copyrighted material, including music and videos, to be an inappropriate use of the campus network. According to the Campus Information Technology Resources policy, Section V.C.4.d, "[all users] must comply with all federal, Utah, and other applicable law; all applicable university policies; and all applicable contracts and licenses." This includes copyright laws, including the DMCA. The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) makes it illegal to download and/or share unauthorized copyrighted materials, which are usually accessed through file sharing software, commonly known as peer-to-peer (P2P) networking software. The illegal (unauthorized) sharing of copyrighted material exposes the perpetrator to civil, criminal, and university penalties.

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.

Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.

Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

For more information, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQ's at

The Information Technology department also wishes to educate students concerning other potentially harmful effects from the downloading and use of various P2P software. P2P software is designed to easily allow the sharing of files from a computer. If the software is not properly configured, unintended access to other parts of the computer could be allowed, and potentially sensitive and private data on the computer could be unintentionally exposed. Also, due to the pervasiveness of this kind of software, they are frequently the targets of viruses and other malware that could infect the computer and further compromise the integrity of the system.

In an effort to help students legally enjoy various entertainment opportunities afforded them on the Internet, EDUCAUSE maintains a list of legal alternatives. The list can be found on their site at

Campus Disciplinary Procedures

Since the university views any unauthorized downloading and/or sharing of copyrighted material as a violation of campus policy, and a misuse of its network, any student found violating this policy will be subject to campus disciplinary action. The student's network access will be disabled, and the student will receive an e-mail with instructions on how to have their account reactivated. First-time infringements by students will require that the student review university policy, laws regarding copyright infringement, and potential civil and criminal penalties for infringement, with the Director of University Housing or Dean of Students. Students residing in campus housing will be instructed to contact the Director of University Housing. Students outside of resident campus housing will be instructed to contact the Dean of Students. The Information Technology Department will notify the Dean of Students of every student infringement, and will notify the Director of University Housing of those infringements by students residing in campus housing. The Dean of Students or the Director of University Housing will notify the IT Department of the acceptable completion of any action required of the student.

The student will be expected to remove the subject material of the notice and remove or reconfigure the software used to facilitate infringement. Students will be required to sign a Network Access Reinstatement form before network access will be granted.

Repeat infringement by students will require following the same account procedures and will require that the student make an appointment with the Dean of Students to review university policies regarding student conduct and outline actions the Dean may choose to apply to the student. Such actions may include but are not limited to convening a hearing panel to consider permanent loss of Information Technology (IT) privileges, removal from housing facilities, or academic dismissal.

An infringement is considered a repeat infringement when a notice received from a rights-holder is dated after a student has completed any required action assigned by the Dean of Students or the Director of University Housing.

Any action taken by SUU against a student for copyright infringement does not relieve nor hold harmless the student against legal action or removes the right of a copyright holder or its agents to pursue legal action.

Was this helpful? 83 out of 97 found this helpful

Have more questions? Let us know