VWU abides by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and illegally downloading and distributing copyrighted material by any student, faculty or staff member is strictly prohibited under the VWU Acceptable Use Policy. This page documents VWU’s policy on the DMCA.
What is the DMCA?
Signed into US law in 1998, the DMCA serves to protect creators of copyrighted materials by criminalizing illegal downloads and distribution of copyrighted material. Content creators deserve to be compensated for their work, and in the internet age, it’s never been easier to illegally obtain digital content, such as music, movies, and TV shows, without paying for it. To protect both the University and the content creators of copyrighted materials, VWU takes the DMCA, and illegal downloading and file-sharing very seriously.
How does VWU Comply with DMCA?
VWU does not actively monitor its network for illegal downloading or file-sharing. However, if VWU is notified of illegal activity that is traced back to the University’s network, The Malbon Center for Technology (IT) will take the following actions:
- Using available Internet traffic logs, IT will identify the user responsible for the copyright violation.
- IT will issue a DMCA Copyright Violation Notice to the individual with information on the material in question and steps the individual needs to take to correct the violation.
- IT will use progressive measures to deter the distribution of unauthorized copyrighted material on its campus network, which will include the following steps.
- For a first offense, IT will issue a DMCA Copyright Violation Notice to the responsible individual.
- For a second offense, IT will issue a DMCA Copyright Violation Notice and immediately suspend Internet access for that individual for a period of five school days. Students will have access to academic Internet sites in the Hofheimer Library during this suspension period.
- For the third offense and beyond, IT will issue a DMCA Copyright Violation Notice, immediately suspend Internet access for the individual for a period of 10 school days, and refer the student to the Vice President for Student Affairs for violation of the VWU Acceptable Use Policy. Students will have access to academic Internet sites in the Hofheimer Library during this suspension period.
If IT is unable to determine the identity of the offender, we will take appropriate measures to stop the sharing of unauthorized copyrighted material including disabling the network port and/or Internet access to the MAC address of the offending device until the violation is resolved.
Registered DMCA Agent
The official DMCA agent for VWU is:
Dr. Chris Davis
Chief Information Officer
The Malbon Center for Technology
Virginia Wesleyan University
5817 Wesleyan Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23456
Possible Consequences of Copyright Infringement
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, go to the U.S. Copyright Office website.
There are also potential consequences and/or sanctions you can face from the University. Copyright infringement is a violation of the VWU Acceptable Use Policy. Possible consequences for violation of this policy can include probation, suspension, and expulsion from the University.
With all of this in mind, is illegal file sharing really worth it?
What All of This Means for You
It’s never a good idea to download or share content illegally. Yes, you can get caught, and yes, you can be sued and/or criminally prosecuted for copyright infringement. Here are some ways to make sure you avoid copyright infringement.
Only download content from trusted, legal sources. For a list of legal content sources, see this page from EDUCAUSE.
If you have any illegally downloaded material, delete it now.
Uninstall any file-sharing (P2P) applications on your computer. Disabling them isn’t enough; even if you’ve closed the program, you may still be uploading files for file-sharing in the background without knowing. Content owners often use file-sharing applications to catch illegal downloads as they happen, so uninstall these applications completely. Organizations such as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), as well as major movie houses such as Lionsgate, Paramount, and MGM Studios have used file-sharing applications to compile evidence against offenders.
If you have received a DMCA Copyright Violation Notice from VWU, here are the steps you need to take.
- Immediately delete the copyrighted material referenced in the DMCA Copyright Violation Notice. If the material was legally acquired by you, there is no need to delete the file.
- Uninstall the file sharing or peer-to-peer software used for downloading files or completely disable the sharing features of the software. The former is preferred as certain software can allow continued sharing of files even if it is not currently running.
- After completing the first two steps, reply to the email you received from firstname.lastname@example.org with the following: “I have ceased the unauthorized sharing of copyrighted material from my computer.“
- If you fail to perform and properly report your compliance with the above steps, your Internet access on your devices will be suspended until you become compliant.
Alternatives to Illegal Downloading
There are multiple ways you can enjoy movies, TV shows, and music without downloading and/or sharing unauthorized copyrighted material. In addition to the typical choices such as Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and Google Play, the educational organization EDUCAUSE maintains a large list of legal alternatives.
If you need additional information concerning DMCA and copyright, please contact:
Dr. Chris Davis
Chief Information Officer