Illegal Downloading and File Sharing Runs with High Risks

The Information Technology department would like to provide the following reminder to all members of our community with regards to North Central's Acceptable Use Policy. Please remember that "NCU network services may be used only for lawful purposes. Transmission, distribution or storage of any material via the services in violation of any applicable law or regulation is prohibited. This includes, without limitation, material protected by copyright, trademark, trade secret or other intellectual property used without proper authorization, and material that is obscene, defamatory, constitutes an illegal threat, or violates applicable laws." You can also view information regarding computer usage in the Student Guide.

Good Habits for Avoiding Illegal Downloading and File Sharing

  • Read user agreements carefully. All of those words are there for a purpose.
  • Ensure that your legal P2P software is not set to share the files you have on your computer.
  • Check the web sites of musicians, record companies, or movie studios to see if they allow distribution of their materials on the Internet.
  • When puchasing material online, read the license carefully to learn if you have permission to convert materials to other formats for personal use.
  • Don't share or distribute materials, unless you have permission.
  • Keep all receipts from legally downloaded material.

Illegal Usage Jeopardizes Everyone

Anyone downloading material not only breaks law, but jeopardizes North Central's internet connection. If just one person is caught downloading one piece of content illegally, North Central may have to shut down or temporary internet service for everyone, to comply with legalities of the situation. Please do not download illegal material in violation of North Central's user agreement policy and other applicable laws.


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, asses 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.

North Central University requires students to take an online course “Illegal Downloading” with repeated offenses of copyright infringement.  This course is also available to students desiring more knowledge on the subject.

Further Information

Please visit the following websites for additional information:,,