UNLV Digital & Media Copyright Compliance

At UNLV, we respect the rights of copyright holders and seek to discourage and prevent copyright infringement on campus. In addition, the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) requires us to deal with unauthorized peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing on our campus networks.

What is peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing?

P2P file sharing software such as Limewire or BitTorrent allows users to distribute files with other users around the world. Though there are many legitimate uses for P2P file sharing software, this type of software is often used to illegally distribute copyrighted materials such as music, movies and software.

P2P software can facilitate copyright infringement in two ways:

  1. by downloading copyrighted materials
  2. by sharing copyrighted materials

When is it illegal to share files?

It is illegal to share files for which you do not have the authorization of the copyright owner. If something can be purchased commercially, it is likely illegal to distribute or download for free.

Isn't it hard to get caught illegally sharing files?

No, getting caught is easy and happens to people just like you. The penalties, according to both UNLV policies and federal law, are real and serious.

When you illegally share or download files using P2P software, you leave behind a digital fingerprint (IP address) that can be easily traced back to you and UNLV. Copyright holders regularly monitor P2P file sharing traffic and send notices to networks found to be violating copyright law. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA), network owners such as UNLV are required to respond to these notices.


Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) Compliance

HEOA imposes three general requirements on all U.S. colleges and universities:

  1. An annual disclosure to students describing copyright law and campus policies related to violating copyright law.
  2. A plan to "effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials" by users of its network, including "the use of one or more technology-based deterrents."
  3. A plan to "offer alternatives to illegal downloading."

We provide the information on this page to ensure HEOA compliance at UNLV.

Technology-Based Deterrents

To meet the HEOA requirement of a "technology-based deterrent," UNLV employs a vigorous program of accepting and responding to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices.

UNLV Procedures for Responding to DMCA Notices

  1. A DMCA complaint is received by the UNLV Information Security Office
  2. The complaint is recorded and forwarded to appropriate system administrator for investigation
  3. The system administrator identifies the computer and user involved with the complaint
  4. An action is taken based on the number of complaints received for identified user:
    • First offense: An e-mail notification of suspected copyright violation is sent to user.
    • Second offense: The user is required to meet in-person and sign a form acknowledging that the infringing material will be deleted.
    • Third offense: The user is forwarded to the appropriate group for disciplinary action. The user may be required to attend a copyright education session.
    • Beyond third offense: Additional offenses will be forwarded for further disciplinary action to the appropriate judicial body.

Potential Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violating Federal Copyright Laws

The U.S. Department of Education prepared the following summary of potential civil and criminal penalties for violation of federal copyright laws:

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 www.copyright.gov, especially their FAQ's at www.copyright.gov/help/faq.

 

Instructions for Removing Copyright Materials

Legal Alternatives to Illegal Downloading

Education and Annual Disclosure

UNLV will regularly notify each student of UNLV's policies and procedures on combating illegal file sharing. In addition to these periodic notifications, UNLV will conduct education campaigns aimed at reducing illegal file sharing.

Relevant Documents, Codes and Policies

UNLV Digital & Media Copyright Compliance Committee Members

  • Michele Kraus, Office of Information Technology and Chair
  • Victoria Arnold, Student Affairs & Residential Life
  • Don Diener, Office Information Technology
  • Cam Johnson, Office of Information Technology and DMCA Compliance Liaison
  • Steve Ochsner, Office of Information Technology
  • Michael Pearson, UNLV Libraries
  • Chinam Seto, Office of Information Technology
  • John Sullivan, Office of Information Technology
  • Gregory Turner, Office of Information Technology
  • Trish Harrison, Office of Information Technology

Review of Effectiveness

UNLV will review the effectiveness of its deterrence efforts on an annual-basis.