File Sharing sharing laws and guidelines are taken seriously at Syracuse University. The unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material (including but not limited to music, movies, TV shows, and games), including peer-to-peer file sharing, is unethical and illegal. Such activity on university networks may subject a student to civil and criminal liabilities. As required by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA), which enforces the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) at educational institutions, Syracuse University addresses and resolves issues of electronic copyright infringement by implementing preventative measures and policies to ensure compliance with federal laws.

Please note that Information Technology Services (ITS) does not monitor the network for copyright volitions. As an Internet Service Provider (ISP), however, Syracuse University investigates all copyright violation complaints made against students, faculty, and staff that the University receives from such organizations as the RIAA (music), MPPA (movies), BSA (software), and ESA (games). These organizations monitor the Internet and trace illegal downloads or sharing (uploads to the Internet) to a computer's IP address.

File Sharing and Copyright Violations

Copyright owners or their agents send violation notices directly to Syracuse University upon discovering illegal sharing of their material via University networks. Syracuse University then matches the IP address with a student, faculty, or staff member and places the computer in quarantine until the matter can be resolved.

Syracuse University does not provide the complaining organization with the device owner's name unless served with a valid, non-objectionable court-ordered subpoena. Upon receipt of a complaint, ITS will actively investigate the allegation(s) and enact its three-strike policy as described below:

  • Strike 1: The offending computer is quarantined from the network. The user who has registered that computer is contacted via e-mail and directed to Syracuse University’s Information Technology Resources Acceptable Use Policy regarding the sharing of electronic copyrighted material. The user is required to assert that they have read and understood the policy. Once this is done, the quarantine is lifted.
  • Strike 2: The offending computer is quarantined from the network. The user who has registered that computer is contacted via e-mail and required to make an appointment with the Director of Information Security for a counseling session. During this session, the user is instructed on Syracuse University’s Information Technology Resources Acceptable Use Policy regarding the sharing of electronic copyrighted material. Once this is done, the quarantine is lifted.
  • Strike 3: The offending computer is quarantined from the network. The user who has registered that computer is referred to Office of Students Rights and Responsibilities, OSRR (if a student) or Human Resources (if faculty or staff) for disciplinary action which may include loss of all network privileges at Syracuse University.

In addition to sending complaints to Syracuse University, copyright owners may also take direct legal action against alleged infringers, and subpoena the University for information about individuals sharing files. The No Electronic Theft (NET) Act provides for serious criminal penalties, including a fine of up to $250,000 and a potential jail sentence. Lack of knowledge about copyright infringement laws will not excuse one from legal consequences, or from action by the University. It is the responsibility of network users to be aware of the legality of their actions.

What is The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)?

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is legislation enacted by the United States Congress in October 1998 that makes major changes to the US Copyright Act. These changes were necessary in part to bring US Copyright law into compliance with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances Phonograms Treaty. The DMCA also strengthened the legal protection of intellectual property rights in the wake of emerging new information communication technologies.

What is The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA)?

The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 requires (among other things) that educational institutions deal with unauthorized file-sharing on their campuses by (a) an annual disclosure to students describing copyright law and campus policies related to violating copyright law; (b) a plan to “effectively combat” copyright abuse on the campus network using “a variety of technology-based deterrents”; and (c) “offer alternatives to illegal downloading.”

I received a DMCA infringement notice, what do I do?

Each DMCA violation is associated to a particular device. Syracuse University matches the IP address with the computer owner and forwards the settlement offer along with a recommendation that the student, faculty, or staff member seek legal counsel. The University does not reveal the name of the computer owner to the complaining organization. Devices that are associated to DMCA violations are removed from University networks. Additional details to regain network access will be emailed account owner of the corresponding device. 

Will I be responsible for DMCA copyright violations if someone else commits the violation using my assigned SU NetID?

Yes, if you allow another individual to use your assigned NetID. Each user must comply with the Information Technology Resources Acceptable Use Policy.

How do I know what is legal and what is not when it comes to copying music?

Put simply: If you distribute copyrighted music without authorization from the copyright owner, you are breaking the law. Distribution can mean anything from "sharing" music files on the Internet to making copies of copyrighted music.

Is it illegal to upload music onto the Internet even if I don’t charge for it?

Yes, if the music is protected by copyright and you do not have the copyright holder’s permission. U.S. copyright law prohibits the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted creative work whether or not you charge money for it.

If all I do is download music files, am I still breaking the law?

Yes, if the person or network you are downloading from does not have the copyright holder’s permission.

What if I upload or download music to or from a server that is based outside of the U.S.?

If you are in the United States, U.S. law applies to you regardless of where the server may be located.

Is there a cost related to copyright or file sharing violations? 

A single violation (one song, movie, game, etc.) can cost thousands of dollars and are likely to include legal fees.

Does Syracuse University offer legal download services?

No, Syracuse University does not currently offer an on-campus source for the legal download of music or videos. 

Removing Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Software

Peer-to-peer (P2P) programs are automatically configured to share files from your computer across the Internet. These programs often work in the background of a computer's operating system and are difficult to disable. Students, faculty, and staff who use these programs may unwittingly be sharing both legally obtained music and other files across the Internet.

Syracuse University and ITS do not support these programs and strongly recommends that students, faculty, and staff not install and/or remove these programs from their computers. At the very least, the SHARE default should be changed to NOT SHARE.

In addition to making computer owners vulnerable to copyright violation complaints from the music and entertainment industries, P2P programs pose a significant security risk for the computer and the SU network by providing openings for malicious programs to infiltrate personal computers and endanger University networks.

To remove P2P programs:

  • For Windows computers, Click Start → Settings → Control Panel → Add/Remove Programs. Double click on the program and follow the prompts to uninstall the program. Restarting the machine may be required. 

  • For Macintosh computers: Drag the application to 'Trash' and empty trash.

To get help with removing P2P programs:

  • Students can bring their devices to the ITS Service Center, located at 1-227 Center for Science and Technology. 

  • Faculty and staff are highly encouraged to begin support by contacting their academic or administrative support personnel. 

Getting Help

For assistance with the information above, including regaining access to University networks on a quarantined device, contact the ITS Help Desk at 315-443-2677,, or by stopping into 1-227 CST.



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