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University Policies Concerning File Sharing

Downloading or distributing copyrighted material without authorization of the copyright holder is a violation of:

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For more information on copyright at the UC, visit the following links:


Civil and Criminal Liabilities

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 U.S. Copyright Office website at, especially their FAQ's at

In addition to the possibility of civil and criminal repercussions, there are consequences from the University.

University Consequences for Student Violations

If UC San Diego receives a copyright violation notice for a computer registered to a student, we will respond in the following way:

First Violation: 
The first notice of illegal distribution of copyrighted material is a warning, but the student's connection is blocked temporarily in case the computer has been compromised and to prevent the student from getting additional copyright violations. The following measures must be taken by the student:

    • Bring in the computer associated with the violation for a security scan, with the option of getting unblocked. We will look at the computer to ensure that the student:
      • Is aware of any P2P file sharing programs installed on the student's computer, and receives assistance in removing them if they choose to
      • Receives assistance in cleaning the computer of any malware
      • Has a computer that meets UC San Diego's Minimum Network Connection Standards (PDF, see Exhibit B)
    • Sign an agreement to stop illegal file sharing
    • Complete a Copyright Presentation online course within 7 days after the security scan

Failure to comply with any of the requirements will result in the network connection getting blocked again.

Second Violation:
A second notice of illegal distribution of copyrighted material will prompt ITS to refer the student's case to the Office of Student Conduct. The student will meet with a Student Conduct Office (e.g., Dean, Assistant Dean, Director of Student Conduct) to discuss an Administrative Resolution to the case. If the student accepts responsibility, the Student Conduct Officer will assign sanctions based on the violation(s), the student's conduct record, and the University's Sanctioning Guidelines. If the Student does not accept responsibility, the case will be forwarded to a Student Conduct Review with the Community Standards Board. If the Board finds the Student responsible, the original Student Conduct Officer will assign sanctions. The following are potential sanctions for second notice violations:

    • Non-academic student conduct probation (typically one year)
    • Illegal File Sharing and Copyright Presentation course
    • Reflection paper on computing abuse
    • Security scan by ITS staff
    • $150 restitution charge

The case will also become part of the student's disciplinary record at UC San Diego. The student must have a security scan done on the identified computer and complete another copyright presentation course, similar to those receiving a first violation. The student will also be required to meet with the ITS Service Desk Manager.

Failure to comply with any of the requirements will result in the network connection getting blocked again. Note that for a second violation, the student will not have the option to be unblocked prior to completion of the entire procedure. 

Third Violation:

The student's network privileges are permanently revoked, unless significant mitigating circumstances are present. The student is also re-referred to the Office of Student Conduct for further action under the Student Conduct Code and may be subject to additional, more serious, sanctions (e.g., $300 fine, non-academic student conduct probation for tenure and/or suspension from the University) based on the student's responsibility in the case and any previous incidents. The case will also be part of the student's UC San Diego conduct record.  

You can find a copy of the Student Conduct Code at Please contact the Office of Student Conduct at (858) 534-6225 if you have any further questions.

University Consequences for Non-Student Violations

DMCA violations received for non-students are forwarded to network security. Consequences for non-students will depend on the policies of their respective department and classification. 

University Consequences for Guests

Guests who receive DMCA violations will have their network connection permanently blocked.