Winthrop University Practice for Handling Copyright Violations Perpetrated via the Campus Network

(including supporting documentation to comply with the unauthorized distribution
of copyrighted materials portions of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 [HEOA])


"In recognition of its mission to further teaching, learning and research and engage in public service, Winthrop University is committed to fostering an environment that provides for the fair use of copyrighted works to achieve these goals while remaining in compliance with applicable laws It is the policy of the University to inform and educate faculty, students, and staff regarding federal copyright law, the rights of copyright owners, the legal obligation of the University to comply with applicable law, and the rights of the University community to use copyrighted works." (Winthrop University Copyright Policy).

Furthermore, "Usage of Winthrop University computing resources shall be consistent with local, state, and federal law It is the policy of Winthrop University to respect the ownership of all intellectual material protected by copyright laws Users shall not make or use illegal copies of copyrighted materials, store such copies on University systems, or transmit them over University networks." (Winthrop University Policy on the Appropriate Use of Information Technology Resources).

"The Winthrop University community understands that information technology has become an integral resource in fulfilling our mission of teaching, learning, research, public service, and administrative responsibilities. The University therefore encourages students, faculty, and staff to acquire computer literacy and technological skill. Computers and networks empower us openly to find, consider, and disseminate information developed at Winthrop and elsewhere, to communicate and collaborate with others near and far, and to build the technological skills base on which the twenty-first century depends. With this empowerment, however, comes commensurate responsibility. Each of us is obliged to support and abide by the ethical and legal standards that apply to information technology, including rights of authorship, confidentiality, privacy, and dissemination. In doing so, we respect the codes of honesty, integrity, and intellectual freedom upon which institutions of higher learning rely."

Technology-Based Deterrents

To discourage the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material over the campus network, Winthrop University employs technology-based deterrents, including the use of network gear configured to block peer-to-peer traffic used for illegal downloads.  

Disclosure and Education

Winthrop University understands the severity of and widespread attempts to illegally download copyrighted material.  The University copyright policy and appropriate use policy both refer to prohibited actions on copyrighted material.  Education about prohibited actions with copyrighted material is disseminated annually to incoming freshmen during orientation with a live presentation on technology.  The FAQ covers many topics including safe computing and respect for copyrighted material.  Information about copyright respect is also covered on the University website under topics such as Technology Policies and Safe Computing Practices.  In all cases, education includes information about prohibited actions, criminal and civil penalties, and University disciplinary action.

All University account holders acknowledge and agree to abide by University policies related to technology, including policies prohibiting illegal downloading.

Winthrop University provides pertinent information regarding respect for copyrighted material in orientation sessions, publications, and web pages.

Investigation and Penalties

Whenever Winthrop University learns of illegal downloading behavior (by observing logs, by direct notification from a monitoring authority, receipt of a DMCA notice, or by other means), Winthrop technology engineers immediately trace networks logs (firewall logs, DHCP logs, network switch logs, etc.) to the offending device.  Once the offender is identified, the material is compiled and sent to the judicial officer in the Dean of Students office for further handling and potential disciplinary action in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct and the Student Handbook.  If requested, Winthrop will provide identifying information of the offending user to appropriate authorities.  If the investigation leads to a faculty or staff member instead of a student, the information will be further investigated by the Assistant Vice President for Computing and Information Technology in consultation with the Human Resources department to determine appropriate disciplinary action in accordance with the appropriate use policy, Faculty Handbook, and Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual.

Although most student cases are preferably handled by remediation through education, penalties may be as severe as suspension of or loss of access to University computer resources (including the campus network), suspension, or expulsion from the University.  Recidivism is handled in a commensurately severe manner.

Review of Effectiveness

Periodic reviews of the effectiveness of methods to discourage illegal downloading is accomplished with review of information compiled from active investigations and notifications from monitoring authorities, and results compiled by the University judicial officer.  Although recidivism has not yet been noted at this campus, information about repeat offenders will also be reviewed if it occurs.  The University is also considering engaging the Council of Student Leaders to help assess the effectiveness of anti-piracy measures and education.


The University encourages the legitimate downloading of copyrighted material through recognized channels such as, iTunes, and other known repositories.  Campus technology permits downloading from these sources without undue restrictions.  Students are reminded that up-to-date and comprehensive links to legal download sources are provided by EDUCAUSE, the Recording Industry Association of America, and the Motion Picture Association of America.  In addition, the Dacus Library at Winthrop University provides access to a music library as well as numerous online resources.


Any practices described herein that are found to unduly interfere with the educational and research use of the campus network will be immediately reviewed and revised as necessary.

Sample Annual Notification

In accordance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA) (Pub. L. 110-315) that added provisions to the Higher Education Act of 1965, Winthrop University is providing this annual disclosure of information related to the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials through illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property.

Campus users are reminded that Federal copyright laws (34 CFR 668.43(a)(10)(ii)) apply to many forms of intellectual property including copyrighted music and videos.

Always respect copyright laws!  This includes printed and digital material.  Do not engage in illicit music, video, or movie downloads.  Please be advised that Winthrop's IT department will notify the appropriate authorities whenever requests are made by the Recording Industry Association of America or any other legitimate enforcement or monitoring entity.  Offenders are also reported to the Dean of Students office for disciplinary action.

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.

Copyright infringement includes 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.

In addition to civil and criminal penalties, students face disciplinary action in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct and the Student Handbook.  University penalties may be as severe as suspension of or loss of access to University computer resources (including the campus network), suspension, or expulsion from the University. 

For more information, please see the Web sites of the U.S. Copyright Office, especially their FAQ's, and Winthrop University's technology policies.