Copyright Infringement and Illegal File Sharing

Copyright Infringement

The copying, distribution or sharing of copyrighted works (including music, videos, and digital copies of textbooks) without permission may be referred to as “copyright infringement”, “pirating” or, in the electronic context through peer-to-peer networks, “illegal file sharing”. 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 the permission of the copyright holder constitutes infringement.

Penalties for Copyright Infringement

The unauthorized copying, sharing or distribution of copyrighted material is strictly prohibited. It is a violation of federal law, the Copyright Act, and of the Code of Student Conduct. Students who infringe a copyright are subject to disciplinary action under the Code of Student Conduct, up to and including expulsion. Employees may be subject to disciplinary action ranging in severity from a warning up to and including termination of employment.

In addition, 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.

Villanova provides this information to all students in its annual HEA notice, as well as to all students and employees in its Annual Security and Fire Safety Report

Villanova’s Plan to Combat Copyright Infringement

Pursuant to certain amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), Villanova University has adopted a plan to combat copyright infringement. This plan details the technology-based deterrent used by Villanova to reduce illegal file sharing, the mechanisms for informing the community about inappropriate use, the procedures for handling unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material and the procedures for periodically reviewing the plan’s effectiveness

As part of its efforts to combat illegal file sharing, Villanova endeavors to educate and inform its community about copyright infringement. To that end, users of the University network must agree to be bound by the University’s Acceptable Use Policy. The University also publishes the Student Handbook, which contains the University Copyright Policy and penalties for violations. The University Copyright Policy is also maintained on University Information Technologies’ website.

During the annual orientation program for all freshmen, Orientation Counselors, and Resident Assistants, the University provides its Copyright Policy in addition to other educational materials. Topical articles and issues are sent periodically via email to the University community. Tech Zone student employees are trained on copyright law and University policy so as to assist students with issues. Finally, a notice about copyright infringement and the associated penalties is also included in the University’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.

Resources and policies regarding copyright issues and legal and illegal examples of file sharing:

Legal Alternatives

As part of compliance with the HEA, Villanova endeavors to provide its community with information about numerous legal sources of music, videos, books and other copyrighted material.

For a comprehensive list of legal sources of music, videos, books and other copyrighted material, see the Educause website.

Copyright Infringement Reporting

To report copyright infringements on Villanova University's Web site, please notify:

Stephen Fugale
Vice President and Chief Information Officer
Office for University Information Technologies
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085
Tel: 610-519-4400
Fax: 610-519-4435
e-mail address:

Stephen Fugale is the agent designated under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, P.L. 105-304, to respond to reports alleging copyright infringements on Villanova University's Web site. For more information on the the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and Villanova University’s policy regarding response to DMCA notices, please click here.

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