Illegally downloading or “sharing” of copyrighted digital media, such as music, film and software is a violation of U.S. Copyright law.
Infringements can lead to costly fines, and/or imprisonment. Federal copyright law entitles the copyright holders to seek statutory damages of $150,000 for each act of willful infringement (for example, each song or movie illegally copied or distributed). A felony charge could result in an additional $250,000 fine and 3 years imprisonment.
The majority of current subpoena actions and lawsuits on peer-to-peer (P2P) users are filed by large content companies that are members of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA).
The University is required by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to respond to allegations of infringing activity received from copyright owners. If the claim is valid, the University may require the user to remove infringing materials, or take other actions as deemed necessary to comply with the DMCA. If the University receives a valid and lawfully issued subpoena, it must, when known, divulge the user's identity to the copyright holder.
Non-compliance issues regarding standards of conduct of illegal file sharing is addressed to students, faculty and staff in their respective handbooks. Disciplinary actions are also addressed in the handbooks.