Know the Facts. Don't Get Targeted.
Student Tech Services is on your side. Our goal is to provide students with a secure and accessible network that respects individual privacy. As part of that goal, we strive to educate students about safe online habits, including avoiding the consequences of illegal file sharing.
The University takes copyright protection very seriously and is legally obligated to comply with federal laws that govern copyright, namely the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA).
You can read more information about these two laws on Berkeley's Information Security and Policy site.
Why should you care?
Illegally downloading and/or sharing copyrighted material not only reduces potential income for artists and other copyright holders, but also has potentially serious legal and disciplinary ramifications for those who violate the law.
Universities are frequently targeted by copyright holders who are continually searching for cases of illegal online file sharing. Universities often provide fast Internet connections, which means a higher volume of traffic can be pushed through in a shorter period of time. UC Berkeley is strictly bound by the previously mentioned laws to respond to copyright infringement notices sent to us by copyright holders.
What other (LEGAL) options do I have?
If you want to watch your favorite movie or listen to your favorite song, there are plenty of legal alternatives available to you. Many ad-supported websites offer media for free, while other services offer music, TV shows, and movies at a very reasonable price. Here are some of Student Tech Services staff's favorite services:
|Service Name||Media Type||Free, Paid, or Subscription|
|Hulu||TV and Movies||Subscription|
|Netflix||TV and Movies||Subscription|
|Amazon Prime Student||Music, TV, and Movies||Subscription|
|HBO Now||TV and Movies||Subscription|
|Kanopy||TV and Movies||Free|
|Crackle||TV and Movies||Free|
|Apple iTunes and Google Play||TV, Movies, and Music||Pay for download|
What are the consequences of illegal file sharing?
If a copyright holder - such as the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) - detects that you are sharing files illegally, it typically pursues one or more of the following options:
- DMCA Take-Down Notice
If a copyright owner discovers that you are sharing copyrighted material on the Internet, UC Berkeley receives a "take-down" notice from the agency representing the copyright holder (such as the RIAA or MPAA). The University then forwards these notices to you. If you receive a copyright notice and have questions, please contact us.
It is possible for you to get caught sharing copyrighted material and not receive a take-down notice. Instead, UC Berkeley receives a subpoena warning on your behalf, and sends you a formal notice of the impending subpoena as well as a copy of the warning. In the formal notice, you are advised to seek legal counsel at your own cost or contact the office of Student Legal Services on campus.
- Pre-Settlement Letter
An additional possibility is that, if you are accused of sharing copyrighted material, you may never receive a subpoena or take-down notice, but rather a "pre-settlement letter." In this scenario, the copyright holder informs you that you've been caught illegally sharing copyrighted material and can either pay for the violation up front or risk getting sued for much more. Pre-settlement costs range from a minimum of $750 per file, which can quickly add up to thousands of dollars.
Students violating copyright law are also subject to sanctions under UC Berkeley's information security policies and Campus Code of Student Conduct.
What is University's policy on copyright enforcement?
As mentioned earlier, Student Tech Services takes copyright violations very seriously while at the same time striving to protect and educate students. You can review the University's full policy regarding copyright enforcement on Berkeley's Information Secuity and Policy site. If you have any questions about this policy, please don't hesitate to contact us.