Illegal File Sharing and Downloading at UNCW and the DMCA

In October 1998, Congress and the President signed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The intent of the DMCA is to restrain and eliminate illegal downloads and file sharing – piracy of proprietary content.

The most significant provisions of the DMCA:

P2P file sharing and illegal downloading occur in the university environment since the institutions are generally providing users significant bandwidth distribution for research and scholarship. Because the DMCA requires copyright holders to notify UNCW if a student user has illegally downloaded content, students who utilize their computing privileges to misuse the bandwidth for illegal downloads and file sharing will face:

Sharing and/or downloading copyrighted music, videos, and film is both illegal and against UNCW policy. It is critical that students understand the implications of illegal file sharing and downloading are severe, and that they refrain from such activity. The recording and motion picture industries have adopted an increasingly aggressive position in finding and prosecuting individual infringers, particularly in the university setting, for the sole purpose of making an example of impermissible uses and deterring other infringing activities.

Legal and Permissible Downloads for UNCW Students

A highly recommended alternative is for student users to subscribe to a legal downloading service so they can legally and permissibly download digital media and keep themselves safe from prosecution and/or revocation of their Internet & Computing privileges.

The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) lists many of their approved music downloading services.

DMCA Procedures

UNCW has the following procedures in place to deal with students who are in violation of applicable copyright laws:

UNCW expects all users of its system to comply with applicable copyright laws. For more information on our copyright stance, go to:

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 of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQ's at

In accordance with the DMCA, UNCW has designated an agent to receive notification of alleged copyright infringement occurring on Web pages or computer servers. If you believe that your copyrighted work is being infringed on a UNCW site, please notify our designated agent, preferably by e-mail at:

Administrator: Zachery Mitcham
Phone: 910-962-3047
Fax: 910-962-2486
Campus mail box: #5619
U.S. Mail: UNC Wilmington, 601 S. College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403

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