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Copyright Infringement and Illegal File Sharing

1. Purpose

Villanova University is committed to combatting copyright infringement and illegal file sharing.  Pursuant to certain stipulations in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA), Villanova University complies with regulations pertaining to the distribution of copyrighted materials. As part of this compliance, the University has adopted and implemented a plan to combat illegal file sharing.  This policy serves to fulfill those requirements and outlines the Universities position regarding this topic.

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2. Policy Statement

Copyright infringement of any kind is not permitted at Villanova University and may subject the infringer to criminal and civil penalties as well as termination of employment or dismissal from the university.

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2.2 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.

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2.3 Villanova’s Plan to Combat Copyright Infringement

Pursuant to certain amendments to the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), 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. UNIT help desk 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.

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2.4 Legal Alternatives

As part of compliance with the HEOA, 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.

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2.5 Copyright Infringement Reporting

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

Michele Dickinson
Chief Information Security Officer 
Office for University Information Technologies 
800 Lancaster Avenue 
Villanova, PA 19085 
Tel: 610-519-5605
Fax: 610-519-4435 
e-mail address:

Michele Dickinson is the agent designated under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, P.L. 105-304,with authority to respond to reports alleging copyright infringements.

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3. Scope

This policy applies to all students, faculty and staff of Villanova University, as well as any other individual who may act on behalf of the university or in an official capacity.

Complete listings of all University IT Policies can be found here:

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

·, especially their FAQ’s at

·         Acceptable Use Policy

·         Student Handbook

·         University Copyright Policy

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4. Procedures

4.1 Plan to combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material

A.  Use one or more technology –based deterrent:

            To satisfy the HEOA requirement of using technology-based deterrent to reduce illegal file sharing, Villanova has chosen to use a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW). The NGFW product allows the university to monitor and block traffic over Peer to Peer (P2P) networks, as well as identify any alleged violator of DMCA provisions.

            B.  Mechanisms for educating and informing the community about appropriate versus inappropriate use:

            Villanova’s plan to educate and inform the community about illegal file sharing has several components:

·         The Student Handbook outlines the criminal and civil penalties for violation of copyright law. This information is included on a website that contains the University’s resources regarding this topic.

·         Web site for the University plan to combat illegal file sharing that includes an outline of the criminal and civil penalties and policy for violation of copyright law; educational material describing legal and illegal examples of file sharing; links to legal sources of music, video, books and other material.

·         The university distributes occasional articles on copyright issues via email or web to the University community.

·         The university distributes email communication to all students annually with information about University copyright policy and web resources. Students are bound to these policies via acceptance/acknowledgment of the provisions outlined in the Student Handbook.

·         Information on University file sharing / copyright policy and resources is included in the annual Orientation program for all freshmen, Orientation Counselors and Resident Assistants.


            C.  Procedures for handling unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material:


            Villanova’s plan to combat illegal file sharing is designed to provide maximum flexibility in dealing with different situations. The University will also utilize a full range of disciplinary sanctions, up to and including expulsions or termination, to discipline students found in violation of the policies regarding copyrighted material and use of the internet; violating students may be subject to the full range of criminal and civil penalties as well. Staff found in violation of University policies prohibiting unlawful file sharing may be subject to disciplinary action ranging in severity from a warning up to and including termination of employment.

The University will also combat the unauthorized distribution of copyright material by continuing to respond to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) copyright infringement notices as required by law using the procedure detailed at

In order to retain necessary flexibility in the administration of policies, the University reserves the right to interpret, revise, or delete any of the provisions of this plan or any of its policies, as the University deems appropriate in its discretion.

            D.  Procedure for periodic review of plan’s effectiveness:

            On an annual basis, Villanova will review the effectiveness of its plan in achieving a reduction in illegal file sharing. The review will be done jointly by UNIT and the Office of the General Counsel. Effectiveness will be measured in part by the number of DMCA notices and the recidivism rate of violators. New developments in technology deterrents will be examined in addition to possible revisions to the educational portion of the plan.

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4.2 Annual disclosure about criminal and civil penalties and disciplinary sanctions

            The University will circulate an annual disclosure notice to current students that apprises them of the criminal and civil penalties, as well as the University disciplinary sanctions, for violations of copyright laws. The University also places its policy prohibiting illegal file sharing in the Student handbook and on a dedicated website to this goal, as noted above.

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5. Definitions

Copyright Infringement is defined as the copying, distribution or sharing of copyrighted works (including music, videos, and digital copies of textbooks) without permission and may be referred to as “pirating” or, in the electronic context of 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.

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6. Approval and Revisions

Version 1.0 Approved February 10, 2016 by VP&CIO Stephen Fugale and the University Council on Information Technology (UCIT).

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