Peer-to-Peer File Sharing and Copyright Law

Peer to Peer Filing Sharing

Campus computer networks are often used to reproduce and distribute copyrighted music, movies, television shows, pictures, and software through the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) networks. P2P file sharing applications allow a computer to connect to a P2P network, and once connected, make it possible to download and share files with other users on the network. When Saint Leo University receives a complaint from a copyright holder, the University notifies the individual involved and passes along any information received from the copyright holder to that individual. The University does not supply any information to the copyright holder about the individual involved unless a valid subpoena is presented.

Legality of Peer-to-Peer Filing Sharing

P2P technologies have many legitimate uses. However, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networking and file sharing is not allowed on the Saint Leo University network or systems under any circumstances.

First offenses will result in a notice from University Technology Services to cease illegal activity. Failure to comply or further incidents of infringement may result in further disciplinary action including but not limited to suspension and loss of network access for the infringing computer. Sanctions may include suspension of network access (meaning loss of Saint Leo email account and course web site access) and other formal University disciplinary action.

Penalties for Violation of Copyright

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

Saint Leo University supports all Federal Copyright Laws. Students using any campus resource, including the campus data network are required to follow this law.

Alternatives to Illegal File Sharing

Educasue maintains a comprehensive list of Legal Downloading Resources. Members of the Saint Leo University community are encouraged to take advantage of these legitimate sources of digital content.

For additional reading on intellectual property issues, and copyright in particular, see these online resources.

1. The American Library Association;

2. Bitlaw on technology law;

3. Digital Millennium Copyright Act at EDUCAUSE;

4. Intellectual property law

5. U.S. Copyright Office