Skip to main content

Accessibility menu

Skip to main content Skip to footer

Peer-to-peer file sharing of copyrighted materials policy

A page within Information Technology Services

Approved: June 28, 2010
Last Date of Review: September 5, 2017


This policy establishes conditions to combat unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials by users of the university’s network.

Background and reason for the policy:

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA) (Pub. L. 110-315) added provisions to the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, (HEA) requiring institutions to take steps to combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials through illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property. These requirements were effective upon enactment of the HEOA, August 14, 2008. On October 29, 2009, the Department published final regulations implementing the statutory requirements (74 FR 55902). These regulations go into effect July 1, 2010.


UWL ITS will limit the bandwidth and priority of peer-to-peer traffic.

UWL ITS will act on notices from the RIAA, MPAA, or others of copyright infringement. Effort will be made to identify the user involved and per the DMCA, their internet access will be blocked until they are spoken to and the illegal copyright material has been removed from their computer.

Campus will be informed of this policy by annual email messages to all individuals, and postings to campus publications such as the Campus Connection and the Eagle Connection on an intermittent basis.

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.

There are many alternatives to illegal downloading of copyrighted material.  A list of legitimate download services is available at sites such as:

This list should not be construed as an endorsement by UW-La Crosse for one service over another.

Consequences of non-compliance:

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.

Repeated noncompliance will result in the offender’s computer being disconnected from the University's network. Information Technology Services will investigate and document apparent or alleged violations of these policies.  Cases of apparent abuse will be referred to the appropriate University officials for further investigation and possible disciplinary action. Student cases will be referred to the Office of Student Life, in accordance with the Universities of Wisconsin Administrative Code. (


UWL ITS will keep copies of the copyright infringement notices it receives from the RIAA, MPAA, and others each year. Effectiveness of this policy will be determined by comparing the numbers of notices with prior years.