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Unauthorized Peer-to-Peer File Sharing


The following information is provided so that students and employees in the university community can avoid violating federal copyright law and understand the risks associated with unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing.

Applies to: 

All faculty, staff, and students of the University of Kansas.

Juniper Gardens
Policy Statement: 

Unauthorized peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing of copyrighted material, distribution of others’ copyrighted works, and illegal downloading violate federal copyright law. Federal copyright law (Title 17 of the United States Code) gives copyright protection to original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression. Subject to limited exceptions, owners of the copyright in a work have exclusive rights to:

  • reproduce, photocopy, or make an electronic copy of the copyrighted work;
  • prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
  • distribute copies of the work to the public by sale, transfer or lending;
  • perform or display the work publicly.

Even if no formal copyright notice is attached, written text, music, movies, digital images, and computer software are some examples of intellectual property protected by copyright. The same legal protections for copyrighted works exist in an electronic environment as they do in a paper environment.

To the extent practical, the University offers technological alternatives to illegal downloading and P2P distribution of intellectual property, but this does not relieve students or employees of their responsibility to monitor their individual use and conduct.

In addition to the below mentioned civil and criminal penalties, unauthorized P2P sharing may include the following risks:


  • Files downloaded using P2P file sharing software may be named innocuously but in actuality are installers for malicious software.
  • The P2P software itself may not be trustworthy. The software may steal information from a computer, have security vulnerabilities of its own, or not completely uninstall even when attempts are made to remove it.

Privacy Issues

  • More information may be shared than intended as some P2P applications look for media files on a computer and share them by default.

Penalties for Illegal Copyright Infringement

Making or distributing an electronic copy of a copyrighted work by any means constitutes a reproduction of the work, and illegal copying may subject students and others who engage in copyright infringement to significant civil and criminal penalties, including:

  • Civil penalties of actual damages suffered by the copyright owner from the infringement, or
  • Civil penalties of statutory damages of up to $30,000.
  • Civil penalties for willful infringement of up to $150,000, and
  • Criminal penalties for willful criminal infringement from 1 to 5 years of imprisonment and fines of up to $25,000 for a first offense.

The University uses a variety of technology-based deterrents to prevent or reduce unauthorized file-sharing, including traffic monitoring to identify large bandwidth users, bandwidth shaping, and commercial products to detect and monitor illegal file-sharing. To the extent practicable, the University offers technological alternatives to illegal downloading and peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property, but this does not relieve students or employees of their responsibility to monitor their own use and conduct.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

The University accepts and responds to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices. Upon receipt of a DMCA notice from a business that has traced unauthorized use of its copyrighted materials back to University servers, the University detects the user at the particular University electronic address indicated, examines the activity at that address, and contacts the individual. Until the situation has been corrected, the user’s access to the Internet and University electronic information resources is disabled. Sanctions can include continued deactivation of the user’s access for a specified period of time, in addition to University disciplinary action.

While the University takes disciplinary action against those who violate copyright law and employs a variety of technology-based deterrents to foil such illegal acts, each member of the University community is responsible for complying with laws and University policies of use of electronic resources and intellectual property.

Questions regarding this notice may be directed to the Office of the Chief Information Officer, Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, or Human Resource Management.


Students who engage in illegal downloading or unauthorized file sharing of copyrighted materials, including distribution of music and movies to others through the University’s information technology system, will be contacted by the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs and are subject to disciplinary sanctions under the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities. 

Employees who engage in unauthorized downloading or file sharing of copyrighted works will be contacted through their unit administrators and will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action by the University.


Office of the Chief Information Officer
1001 Sunnyside Avenue 
Lawrence, KS 66045

Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs
1450 Jayhawk Blvd.
Strong Hall, Room 133
Lawrence, KS 66045

Human Resource Management
1246 W. Campus Road
103 Carruth-O'Leary Hall
Lawrence, KS 66045

Approved by: 
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Approved on: 
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Effective on: 
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Review Cycle: 
Biennial (Every Two Years)
File sharing, copyright infringement, P2P
Change History: 

01/26/2022: Updated contact section.
11/09/2020: Added risks associated with Peer-to-Peer Sharing and updated contact information.
03/08/2019: Updated contact section.
01/05/2015: Minor correction to Review, Approval & Change History.
11/03/2014: Fixed broken links; policy formatting cleanup (e.g., bolding, spacing).
08/03/2012: Updated contact information to reflect recent departmental name changes.
02/17/2010: The University of Kansas, Lawrence, has adopted this policy in compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act, as amended by the Higher Education Act Reauthorization, August 2008 [20 USC 1092(a)(1)(P); 34 CFR 668.14(b)(30)].

Information Access & Technology Categories: 
Information Technology
Privacy & Security
Personnel: Faculty/Academic Staff Categories: 
Workplace Rules & Guidelines
Personnel: Staff Categories: 
Workplace Rules & Guidelines
Personnel: Student Employees Categories: 
Workplace Rules & Guidelines

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