Copyright and Peer to Peer File Sharing

Users of the UT Martin network are prohibited from sharing copyrighted works without permission, peer-to-peer file sharing, and copyright infringement by both UT policy and federal law. Before you consider sharing music, movies, software, etc., you should be aware of the consequences of your actions.


“Users” includes but is not limited to students, faculty, staff, contractors, agents, representatives, and visitors accessing or using the University’s network.

Legal Consequences

Copyright violations are against US laws and international treaties, including but not limited to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 and other US copyright 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, 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, especially their FAQ's at

University of Tennessee at Martin Consequences

Sharing copyrighted works without permission is expressly prohibited in the University of Tennessee Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources Policy #IT0110.

Sanctions for Students

The UT Martin Standards of Conduct #16 states: “A student or organization may be disciplined for the following types of misconduct: Theft, misuse, or unauthorized use of information technology facilities, resources, or access codes, including, but not limited to: unauthorized entry into or transfer of a file; using another person’s identification and/or password without that person’s consent; using information technology facilities or resources to interfere with the work of another student, faculty member, staff member, or other member of the University community; using information technology facilities or resources to interfere with normal operation of a University information technology system or network; circumventing University information technology system or network security; using information technology facilities or resources in violation of copyright laws; falsifying an e-mail header; and conduct that violates the University’s policy on the Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources.”


Violation of this Standard of Conduct may subject the offender to disciplinary action up to and including permanent dismissal from the University.


See for more information regarding sanctions for students.

Sanctions for Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff found to be in violation of the University of Tennessee Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources Policy #IT0110may lead to disciplinary action, up to and including, termination, as either unsatisfactory work performance or work-related behavior, or gross misconduct, under university policy.


See Human Resources Policy #HR0580 for more information.

University of Tennessee at Martin Technology-Based Deterrents in Use

UT Martin uses one or more technology-based deterrents to block unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing

  • UT Martin Information Technology Services uses devices to block P2P (peer-to-peer) traffic and all BitTorrent protocols
  • UT Martin’s Information Technology Services prevents all users from accessing websites with Peer-to-Peer software or any website with illegal file sharing capabilities

Additional Items

  • The UT Martin Library maintains a website with multiple documents about copyright law as it pertains to university students called “Plagiarism, Fair Use, and You As a College Student”.
  • The UT Office of Information Technology (OIT) maintains a website ( with information on copyright infringement, including policies and consequences of copyright infringement
  • EDUCAUSE also maintains a web page on “Legal Sources for Online Content” at This page is updated periodically, most recently in February 2013.
  • The U.S. Department of Education publishes in the Federal Student Aid Handbook a summary of the civil and criminal penalties for violation of federal copyright laws.

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