Copyrighted Materials


  • It is illegal to host or distribute copyrighted materials without permission. This includes images, software, music files, video files, etc.
  • Copyright holders, particularly from the music industry are very aggressively tracking down, identifying and prosecuting those who are sharing music files.
  • Commonwealth University regularly receives notifications that network addresses traceable to our university are involved in the illegal sharing of copyrighted materials.  
  • Commonwealth University can trace these addresses directly to residence hall rooms.
  • In cooperation with University Police and Housing and Residence Life, we have established due process procedures for terminating user access to network services until the files in question are removed or the activity ceases.

PRP 2550 - Acceptable Use Of Technology Policy addresses the use of university issued/owned information technology resources.

As a result of the Federal Department of Education issuing new regulations detailing what institutions will be expected to do to comply with the requirements of Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), Division of Information Technology at Commonwealth University has taken the following steps to demonstrate good faith in doing due diligence to comply with the HEOA regulations. It includes provisions that are designed to reduce the illegal uploading and downloading of copyrighted works through peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing.

Following are the main HEOA requirements with brief explanations of the steps Commonwealth University is taking:

  1. Make an annual disclosure that informs students the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials may subject students to criminal and civil penalties and that describes the steps CU will take to detect and punish illegal distribution of copyright materials.
    • Action: Annually at the start of each new academic year a message to students will go out from the Division of Information Technology informing students about university policy related to the use of copyrighted material and steps the University will take to enforce its policies.
      • It should be noted CU has implemented a specific policy and set of DMCA procedures that were developed by the CITO. This policy and set of procedures complies with the requirements of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Our DMCA and other Copyright Complaints Procedure can be found below.
  2. Certify we have developed plans to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyright material.
    • Action: Currently, the CU Division of Information Technology has implemented a system aimed at bandwidth shaping specifically for CU network traffic. This software throttles back the network traffic from a particular user once that specific person’s network traffic reaches the threshold specified in our policy. While the Division of Information Technology monitors the volume of network traffic it is the policy of the University that the Division of Information Technology not monitor the content of any traffic on the campus network.
      • The University’s policy also addresses the steps to be followed in responding to DMCA notices. Essentially, an initial notice triggers a contact from the Division of Information Technology with the alleged offender off-campus network access being revoked and asking the individual to remove the offending material. Once the offending material is removed, off-campus network access is restored. A second (and any subsequent notices) will be referred to the Dean of Students for action.
  3. "To the extent practicable," offer alternatives to illegal file sharing.
    • Action: The Division of Information Technology has assembled a resource page on legal media downloads and file sharing that contains links to sites where students may legally download music, video and images, and will point to the resource site at EDUCAUSE.

These steps will be reviewed annually by the Division of Information Technology in June and revised as necessary to remain in compliance. Based on the monitoring data the Division of Information Technology collects relative to network traffic, as well as the volume of DMCA notices received, the review will assess the overall effectiveness of the University’s policy and procedures to promote the legal use of copyrighted materials. Any changes to the policy and/or procedures will take effect at the commencement of the following academic year.

The Commonwealth University official designated to respond to allegations of copyright infringement on the part of individuals at Commonwealth University, in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, is identified below, along with contact information. The act requires the complainant to include certain information in a complaint, and providing that information in the initial contact may help speed resolution of the complaint.

Agent Contact Information

Bill Barnes, Executive Director of Enterprise Applications
Division of Information Technology
Commonwealth University
570-389-3066 (Fax)

Digital Millennium Copyright Act

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act specifies that all infringement claims must be in writing (either electronic mail or paper letter) and must include the following elements:

  1. A physical or electronic signature;
  2. Identification of the infringed work;
  3. Identification of the infringed material;
  4. Contact information for the complainant, e.g. address, telephone number, electronic mail address;
  5. A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner or the law; and
  6. A statement that the information contained in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner.

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 web site, especially their Frequently Asked Questions.

There are a number of services that provide legal media downloads. A frequently reviewed and updated list of known legal media providers is maintained by Educause, a national association for information technology professionals in higher education.

Note: Commonwealth University does not endorse any of these services. They are only presented here as a resource to find legal downloads for music, video and other media.

Why did I receive an email that my internet connection has been temporarily disabled?
  • If you received this email that your internet connection has been temporarily disabled, it means the Division of Information Technology received a valid copyright complaint from the copyright holder and you need to remove the copyrighted material and all programs that you used to download copyrighted material from the internet. The IT Helpdesk can assist you if you’re unsure how to do this. Once this is done, reply to the email that it’s done and we’ll restore your access.
Illustration of Mountain

Questions on Copyrighted Materials?