print header
UW-Eau Claire > Student Senate > Commissions > Information Technology > Copyright Compliance

Copyright Compliance

What is Illegal File Sharing?

It is illegal for any individual to download, share, or distribute copyrighted materials (including but not limited to movies, television shows, music, software, video games, books, and magazines) without permission from the copyright owner.

When you download copyrighted materials from file sharing or peer-to-peer sources, you may be inadvertently sharing those materials with other users.  This is referred to as uploading or "seeding."

Media representatives like the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), as well as other movie or record labels actively try to detect students who are illegally sharing their copyrighted materials.

What are the Penalties for Illegal File Sharing?

When notifications of copyright violations are received from recognized groups, such as the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA), the registered owner of the computer will be notified.

First Violation: Access to the Internet will be removed for 14 days. After 14 days, if the offending material has been removed, the computer will be allowed back on the Internet.

Second Violation: The computer will be banned from the Internet for 28 days. After 28 days, if the offending material has been removed, the computer will be allowed back on the Internet.

Third Violation: The computer will be banned from the Internet for the remainder of the current semester.  In addition, the student will be required to meet with the Dean of Students. Disciplinary action may be taken at that time.

Legal Penalties: In addition to these institutional penalties, other legal penalties exist:

  • 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 $750.00 and not more than $30,000.00 per work infringed.
  • For willful infringement, a court may award up to $150,000.00 per work infringed.
  • A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees.
  • Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000.00 per offense.
  • Copyright owners may potentially also initiate a lawsuit against students who they have caught illegally sharing copyrighted material.


More information:

What are the alternatives to Illegal File Sharing?

There are a wide variety of alternatives to illegally downloading and sharing copyrighted materials.  While nearly every major entertainment company has its own website that provides free content, this list provides links to sites that you can utilize to access material legally:

Contact Information

Technical Questions: If you have technical questions, such as how to uninstall file sharing software, please contact the ResCom Help Desk at

Copyright Laws: If you have questions regarding copyright laws, please contact Library Director John Pollitz at

UW-Eau Claire File Sharing Policy: If you have questions regarding UW-Eau Claire's File Sharing Policy, please contact Student Senate's Information Technology Commission at

Excellence. Our Measure. Our Motto. Our Goal.