Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material on the UW Network

Last updated: August 16, 2022

Policies and Procedures

The University of Washington is committed to ensuring that copyrighted works are respected and used appropriately by UW faculty, students, staff and visitors. Our policies require those using our computers or networks to respect U.S. and international copyright laws and failure to do so may result in disciplinary action or termination of access.

This document serves as the “written plan” required of the University under the copyright-related regulations associated with the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008.

Combating Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material

The University addresses misuse of its networks for unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material through a variety of educational, technical, and disciplinary means. These include:

  • Mailings, web sites, and other mechanisms explaining the difference between appropriate and inappropriate use of copyrighted materials and the possible penalties of misuse.
  • Network management technologies and policies that may constrain the use of the network for purposes not directly related to the University’s mission.
  • Standardized, consistent handling of copyright violation notices, including validation of details, warnings to offenders, and disciplinary action when warnings prove ineffective.

The University periodically reminds its network users through email, web sites, and other means that:

  • If an individual chooses to host or exchange files unlawfully, that individual will be personally responsible for any consequences from that activity. Ignorance of the law is not a useful defense. The University strongly recommends that individuals using University of Washington networks and computers learn the rules and the laws before sharing files on line.
  • Educational institutions are not exempt from the laws covering copyrights. Most software, images, music, and files available for use on computers at the University of Washington are protected by federal copyright laws. In addition, software, images, music, and files normally are protected by a license agreement between the purchaser and the software seller. It is University of Washington policy to respect federal copyright and license protections.
  • Unauthorized use of software, images, music, or files is regarded as a serious matter and any such use is without the consent of the University of Washington. If abuse of computer software, images, music, or files occurs, those responsible for such abuse will be held accountable.
  • The University’s Internet connections provide access to many legal alternatives for downloading or otherwise acquiring copyrighted material, including those listed UW Library’s Free and Legal Media for Downloading and Streaming site.

Handling of Potential Violations

When the University receives formal notification that a user of its network appears to be violating copyright, UW Technology

  • Validates that the complaint has been sent to the proper UW address.
  • Catalogs the complaint with a UW ticket number.
  • Identifies the machine identifier (“MAC address”) associated with the network address at the time noted in the complaint.
  • Uses logs to identify the owner of the device, if possible.
  • Sends the owner instructions requesting that offending material be removed from the network, and requiring a response from the owner.

Internet access is restricted if the alleged offender fails to respond to the notice within 72 hours or if the machine owner has received a previous complaint.

University students receiving second complaints must meet with a University official before Internet access is restored.

The target response time for copyright complaints is 10 working days or less.

Periodically Reviewing Effectiveness

The University will review the effectiveness of this plan on an annual basis during the summer quarter. The primary measure used to assess effectiveness at deterring unauthorized sharing of copyrighted material will be the number of repeat offenders, measured as a percentage of the number of overall complaints received.

Legal Alternatives

There are many legal alternatives for obtaining music and video on the Internet, and that list is growing constantly. The UW Libraries maintains a list of interesting sources for video and music at Free and Legal Media for Downloading and Streaming

Additional Information