University of Vermont

Information Technology

What will happen if I get caught?

Violation of the Copyright Law can have serious consequences:

  1. University Disciplinary Action: Copyright infringement can subject a student to disciplinary action under the UVM Code, since violation of law or University policy is grounds for discipline. First offenses will result in a notice from Computing and Information Technology, copied to the Office of Judicial Affairs, to cease illegal activity. Failure to comply, or further incidents of infringement, will result in referral to Judicial Affairs for disciplinary action. Sanctions may include suspension of network access (meaning that you may not be able to send or receive email or go online), probation, an official letter of sanction in your University disciplinary record, or, in very serious cases, suspension or expulsion. These outcomes might prove harmful to your future job prospects or academic pursuits, since many employers and graduate and professional schools require you to disclose University disciplinary action.  Employees are subject to discipline that can result in job termination. 

  2. If you can't readily be contacted after a complaint, or if you do not respond, your network access will be suspended. 

  3. Civil Liability: Persons found to have infringed may be held liable for substantial damages and attorneys' fees. The law entitles a plaintiff to seek statutory damages of $150,000 for each act of willful infringement. In the cases filed by the RIAA against students at Princeton, RPI, and Michigan Tech, the recording industry sued for damages of $150,000 for each recording infringed.

  4. Criminal Liability: Copyright infringement also carries criminal penalties under the federal No Electronic Theft Act. Depending on the number and value of the products exchanged, penalties for a first offense may be as high as three years in prison and a fine of $250,000. UVM is not the police; however, UVM will cooperate with the law enforcement agencies when required.

<- How often does UVM receive “take down” notices from the recording industry or other copyright holders?    But if everyone breaks the rules, how can you punish just one person? ->

Last modified June 30 2010 04:31 PM

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