WU Compliance with Higher Education Opportunities Act (HEOA)

Institutional Information

Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws

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 web site and FAQ of the U.S. Copyright Office.

Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Policy

WU policy prohibits unlawful use of computers or network accounts. Unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject a student to civil and criminal liabilities and to University student conduct sanctions.  Violations may result in suspension or termination of access to WU's network or to services available through this network, and may further result in disciplinary action including suspension/dismissal or separation from Waynesburg University, employment termination, and/or criminal prosecution. 

Combating Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Materials

WU uses a variety of methods to inform students about copyright laws:

  • WU’s “Student’s Right to Know” webpage provides information about copyright laws and fair use for the campus community.
  • All students are required to acknowledge their adherence to our WU ITS Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines as a condition for authorization for a network access account. This includes the requirement not to violate copyright laws.
  • Copyright violation warning notifications are posted in all WU computer labs.

WU uses a combination of enforced policy, education, and technologies to combat unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material.

WU ITS policy prohibits unlawful use of computers or network accounts [which] includes, but is not limited to, defamation; obscenity; unlawful discrimination or harassment; violation of copyrights, trademarks, or licenses; and violation of other rights. Users of WU's network services acknowledge this prohibition when there accounts are provisioned.

WU employs several technology-based deterrents to unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials and has a strong program for accepting and responding to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices:

  • When registering for the wired network, and when activating a WU resource accounts, one is presented with a summary of acceptable uses, including a notice that "unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject Users to University disciplinary action and to civil and criminal liabilities." This message is also included in email to each individual who has activated a WU resource account.
  • Prior to WU workstation login, users are presented with a summary of ITS acceptable use policies and must acknowledge their acceptance to abide with these policies before login can occur.
  • Wireless clients (WU end-users including students) are required to register their devices with their identities.
  • Copyright violation warning notifications are posted in all WU computer labs.
  • Installation of software, on any WU owned computer, is restricted to ITS personnel to ensure compliance with software licensing and copyright requirements.   

Procedures for addressing unauthorized download / distribution of copyrighted material

The procedure for dealing with reports of unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material is to identify the registered device owner, and:

  • Disable network account(s) associated with the violation / infringement
  • Send notification to Student Services so that a meeting can be arranged with the student, a representative from Student Services, Director of Network Security & Services, and Executive Director of Information Technology Services.
    • Violation will be discussed
    • Additional education provided to the student on the importance of adhering to all institutional policies and how to avoid copyright violations
    • ITS will inspect the device, used to download / distribute infringing material to ensure it has been removed 
    • Formal written notification provided to the student, by Student Services, documenting the investigation, discussions, outcomes, and associated sanctions (if applicable).
  • Network account reactivated with written authorization from Student Services.