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Northern Kentucky University respects the intellectual property rights of others and expects students, faculty, and staff to do so as well. It is the responsibility of all members of the campus community to make a good faith determination that their use of copyrighted materials complies with the United States Copyright Law and the NKU Acceptable Use Policy, which outlines the responsible use of all university computing and network resources. 

Failure to show respect for duly established laws or university regulations will be handled by the Office of the Dean of Students and Legal Affairs in conformance with university regulations. Persons who violate the Acceptable Use Policy, as well as other OIT policies regarding the use of copyrighted materials, can be subject to limitation or revocation of their computer and network privileges, other disciplinary actions, and may also be referred to appropriate external authorities.

HEOA Provisions

The Higher Education Opportunity Act contains provisions for the regulation of peer-to-peer (P2P) applications when exercised in ways that infringe on the copyrights of commercial works (usually regarding entertainment and media files). Several sections of the HEOA pertain to unauthorized file sharing on campus networks, imposing three general requirements on all U.S. colleges and universities:

  • An annual disclosure to students describing copyright law and campus policies related to violating copyright law:

    • A statement that explicitly informs its students that unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject the students to civil and criminal liabilities.

    • A summary of the penalties for violation of federal copyright laws.

    • A description of the institution’s policies with respect to unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, including disciplinary actions that are taken against students who engage in illicit downloading or unlawful distribution of copyrighted materials using the institution’s information technology system.

  • A plan to "effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials" by users of its network, including the use of one or more technology-based deterrents such as:

    • Bandwidth shaping

    • Traffic monitoring to identify the largest bandwidth users

    • A vigorous program of accepting and responding to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices

    • A variety of commercial products designed to reduce or block illegal file sharing

  • Provide sources to offer legal alternatives to illegal downloading and file sharing


NKU complies with HEOA in the following ways:

  • NKU provides annual disclosure reminders about our Acceptable Use Policy (which includes copyright infringement violations), plus the link to this site regarding HEOA compliance.
  • NKU has chosen to deploy a vigorous program of traffic monitoring, and responding to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices as our technology-based deterrents.  The effectiveness of this deterrent strategy will be reviewed periodically by comparing the rate of DMCA notification with the number of infringements reported on the NKU network. In addition, a network bandwidth shaping tool is implemented on the dorm network to curb high volume network usage. 
  •  NKU provides legal alternatives via Educause's list of legal alternative sources for online content.

Penalties for Copyright Violations

The US Department of Education provides the following summary and explanation of 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 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 for up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense. For more information, please see the U.S. Copyright Office website.

Contact Information

To report a copyright violation, please contact: