Computer Misuse

Institutional Information Requirement under HEOA regarding Peer-to-Peer File Sharing and Copyrighted Material

Pursuant to 34 CFR 668.43(a)(10), an institution must include information regarding institutional policies and sanctions related to the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material in the list of institutional information provided upon request to prospective and enrolled students.

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, e.g. the use of file-sharing networks to download and share copyrighted works without permission from the copyright owner — like software, music, movies, TV shows, games and images — violates copyright laws. Specifically, unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject violators to civil and criminal liabilities in addition to university sanctions.

Both the person who makes a copy of a copyrighted work available for unlawful download and the person who receives or downloads an illegal copy have violated copyright laws and UCF policies. Even if someone lawfully purchased a song, it is illegal to allow others to make and keep a copy of that song. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a copyright owner or an authorized agent may lawfully scan Internet traffic and send a complaint to UCF as the Internet Service Provider. The copyright owner may file a lawsuit against the IP address, and UCF would have to provide the identity of the UCF network user in response to a valid subpoena. Copyright damages are usually statutory – that is determined not by actual damages but by statute. A summary of the civil and criminal penalties for violation of federal copyright laws is provided below.

Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws

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, especially their FAQs at

The following UCF policies and rules of conduct address the copying and/or distributing of copyrighted materials without permission. These policies include:

This prohibition is also found in
UCF Regulation UCF – 5.008 Rules of Conduct and the UCF Golden Rule Student Handbook. Both the UCF Regulation and the UCF Golden Rule Student Handbook specifically address the misuse of computing and telecommunications resources. In addition, the ResNet User Agreement also specifically prohibits file sharing.

The UCF Information Security Office has created an information security brochure, which addresses copyright infringement and peer-to-peer file sharing. UCF follows up and responds to every copyright complaint.

Alternatives to Illegal Downloading

UCF students are hereby informed of and directed to a comprehensive list of legal downloading alternatives. This list has been developed by EDUCAUSE and can be found at the following URL: Students need to keep in mind that even if someone lawfully purchases/downloads a song, it is illegal to allow others to make and keep a copy of that song.

Student P2P violations/copyright infringement will be investigated and addressed as outlined in section 7 of the DMCA Compliance Program Document link to: Student P2P violations/copyright infringement will be investigated and will be addressed in the following manner:

First Offense

(Based on initial notice(s) received from the copyright holder(s)):

  1. Warning message sent to the student along with supporting document(s).
    • Student may not receive a warning message for each infringement notice
      received by the university. However, each infringement notice is recorded.
  2. If the student acknowledgments the warning message and pledges to discontinue P2P networking on UCF resources, no further action needs to be taken.

Second Offense

(Repeated notices after the student acknowledges the initial warning message or after the first shutdown):

  1. Internet or wireless access to the network for the student is revoked.
    • Note: Students on Resident Network (ResNet) will be able to access UCF resources.
  2. Notification of network access revocation sent to the student and the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) along with supporting documents. Information Security Office files an incident report with OSC.
  3. Office of Student Conduct places an administrative hold on the student’s account.
  4. Students will be contacted by the Office of Student Conduct (located in Ferrell Commons room 227) regarding the alleged violation of the Rules of Conduct. An appointment will be scheduled for the student to discuss the alleged violation, receive a written warning, and be provided instructions on how to get their internet access restored.
  5. Once a student completes these instructions, OSC will remove the hold on the student’s account and contact the Information Security Office reinstatement of network access.

Third Offense

  1. Internet or wireless access to the network for the student is revoked.
  2. Notification message sent to the student and OSC along with supporting documents. The Information Security Office files an incident report with OSC.
  3. The Office of Student Conduct will proceed with disciplinary charges (including a student account hold) and the student will go through the student conduct review process.
  4. Internet or wireless access to the network remains disabled until OSC or designee notifies the Information Security Office recommending the reinstatement of Internet access for the student.