Digital Copyright and File Sharing
The University of Sioux Falls requires that all users of our network comply with and respect U.S. copyright laws.  This page outlines University of Sioux Falls’ plan to comply with the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) concerning unauthorized downloading or distribution of copyrighted materials.  This plan includes:

• An Annual Disclosure describing the copyright laws  and a summary of penalties for violation of Federal copyright laws

Alternatives to illegal downloading

Briefly, the law states that unauthorized downloading or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject students to civil and criminal liabilities as well as university sanctions.   These digital materials may include music, movies, games, TV shows, and images often downloaded or distributed using a peer-to-peer (P2P) network.

What is P2P file sharing?  When a file-sharing application such as BitTorrent, LimeWire, or Kazaa is loaded on your computer, it becomes one of the clients or ‘peers’ of a network.  Files on your computer can then be accessed and shared by the other clients or ‘peers’ on other computers.  While sharing files on such a network is not necessarily illegal, sharing copyrighted material is against the law and may constitute a violation of federal, state, and University of Sioux Falls policies.

Summary of 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 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, Section 504, 505.

Willful copyright infringement cna 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 of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQ's at

University of Sioux Falls policies with respect to unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, including disciplinary actions that are taken against students who engage in illegal downloading or unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials using the institution's information technology system

1. Applicable university policies

Alongside the law, the University of Sioux Falls has policies in place that clearly stand on adhering to the law.
2. Disciplinary actions

Peer to Peer file sharing is frequently a copyright violation, and, as such, violates University of Sioux Falls policies governing network and internet usage.

If the University of Sioux Falls discovers or learns of a peer-to-peer violation, there are consequences.

First-time Violation: A written warning will be sent to the person, requiring the person to complete education regarding peer-to-peer sharing, and signing an agreement that states the person will stop sharing activity and will delete the infringing material from all systems where it is stored.

Subsequent Violations: The matter will be reffered to the judicial process.

Appeal Process: If the person feels they did not violate the policy, a written appeal can be filed claiming denial of the violation. This appeal will need to be sent to the Director of Information Technology within 2 weeks of the notice being sent.

Additional Information: If a settlement notice is received from the Recording Industry of America, Inc., the fee assessed will be passed on to the person committing the violation.  This can result in a charge on a student’s bill which can prevent the student from registering for future semesters or getting an official transcript.

3. Technical deterrent

The university has implemented a hardware based solution to help control unlawful Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file distribution. That means programs such as Kazaa, Limewire, BitTorrent and Ares will not work over the internet.  If you would like to remove this software from your PC and need assistance or have questions concerning these programs, please contact the IT helpdesk at 331-6674 or stop by our offices on the lower level of Jorden Hall. 

You can see a list of legal alternatives within our full policy at