Copyright Compliance


University of Kentucky (UK or University) students, faculty and staff (collectively “customers”) who violate copyright laws may lose access to computer and network privileges.  UK’s policy is that all customers need to respect the rights of copyright holders, while exercising the rights granted under the copyright laws.  To do so, customers need to understand and comply with the copyright laws.  

Audience & Applicability

This policy applies to every customer who utilizes the UK network.


The purpose of this policy is to help explain the legality and dangers of copyright infringement, (including the unauthorized downloading and file sharing of copyrighted materials), and describe the penalties that may result from infringing activities.


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 federal copyright laws.  These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work.  For more information on copyright and how to appropriately use the works of others see

In the context of file-sharing, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work, without authority, constitutes an infringement.  Every day, the ease and speed of electronic communications allows millions of individuals to share copyrighted materials.  Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing and file sharing software is of particular concern.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing applications allow customers to download and share electronic files of all types and to use any computer as a server for file sharing requests. Currently, some of the more common files shared in this manner are audio files (e.g., mp3, wav, midi), video files (e.g., QuickTime, mpeg, avi), and picture files (e.g., gif, jpeg). Programs such as PopcornTime, Bittorrent, Gnutella, and others configure computers to serve the files that are downloaded.

Because there are legitimate academic, research, and personal uses of P2P file sharing applications, UK does not automatically ban them from its network. The University may use one or more technology-based deterrents to aid in the reduction of P2P copyright violations. The University recognizes that frequently P2P activity consists of copying music and video files for personal enjoyment, often violating copyright law and/or using a disproportionate amount of network resources. Therefore, before participating in any P2P file sharing activity, customers and consumers of University computing and electronic communication resources should ensure that such activity is in compliance with this policy and other related University policies.

File sharing, per se, is not illegal. Composers, videographers, faculty, and photographers, for example, can share their creations with anyone they want – provided these same composers, authors, videographers, faculty, and photographers own the copyright or have authorization from the owner. Legal problems occur when files, music, e-books, movies, videos, software, etc. are shared and the person sharing them doesn’t own the material/contents and doesn’t have permission from the copyright owner to share it. The same is true for people who receive the material/contents – downloading or receiving music, movies, videos, e-books, software, etc. without some type of permission, license, or right to do so is usually considered to be infringing. There are many legitimate websites through which music, movies, e-books and software can be downloaded for free although most do charge a nominal amount for the right to play or watch the song, movie, etc. Customers should read the terms of use carefully to determine their rights and understand any use restrictions.

File-sharing can also have a number of additional risks. For example, when connected to file-sharing programs, the customer may unknowingly allow others to copy private files never intended to share. Customers may inadvertently download material that is protected by copyright laws and find themselves mired in legal issues. Customers may also download a virus or find that they have unknowingly facilitated a security breach.


Legal Sources of Online Content 

There are many sources of legal online content.  Some require a fee, some are free:   

  1. Film and TV
  2. Music
  3. Other Resources


Penalties and UK Response to Notice of Infringement

Copyright infringement can result in criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for first-time offenders can be as high as five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Individuals who illegally reproduce or distribute copyrighted material may face criminal prosecution even if there is no monetary gain or commercial benefit.

Civil penalties have minimum statutory damages of $750 per song or movie and up to $30,000 per work infringed. Statutory fines may be assessed without the copyright holder proving actual damages of the copyright infringing activity. Fines for cases of infringement can be as high as $150,000 for each copyrighted work infringed. Customers who inappropriately copy or distribute copyrighted material or use P2P file sharing networks on campus may lose computer and network privileges for up to 45 days, and in some cases privileges may be lost indefinitely.  Other sanctions may also be imposed.  See University Administrative Regulation 10-1.  Customers are responsible for all activity that transpires through the computing account and the devices that are registered to the user.

If a copyright owner (or representative) sends a valid notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) to the University’s registered DMCA agent, then the University is obligated to remove or disable access to the material that is claimed to be infringing.  If a notice is received or the University is otherwise made aware of infringing content then the following will occur:

1. The customer’s access to the University data network is disabled until the customer: 

a. Contacts ITS Customer Services (, (859) 218-4357);

b. Reviews ITS Customer Services’ copyright infringement training materials; and

c. In writing, acknowledges reading the training materials and commit to not infringe on
    another’s copyright in the future (per the training materials).

2. For any subsequent copyright infringement complaint, the customer’s access to the UK network is disabled and the Dean of Students (for students), Human Resources Department (for staff), or Office of Faculty Affairs (for faculty) is notified and that department’s processes are then followed.


Copyright law provides no broad exceptions for non-profit educational uses.  All customers should become knowledgeable about copyright protections, respect the rights of others and engage in appropriate legal use of the works of others.


Additional Information

The website of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQ's provide an excellent starting place.  See also:


  1. American Council on Education Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities: Copyright Law and Potential Liability for Students Engaged in P2P File Sharing on University Networks
  2. Developed by the Motion Picture Association of America
  3. Purdue University’s Recording Industry Announcement
  4. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998
  5. The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008
  6. UK’s Fair Use Policies

Printed copies of this document are not considered to be official.