Notice Regarding Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Materials

Notice Regarding Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Materials

Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWIT) complies with the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) provisions to combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials through illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property. H.R 4137, the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), is a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, and was signed into law on August 14, 2008. It includes provisions that are designed to reduce the illegal uploading and downloading of copyrighted works through peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing. These provisions include requirements that:

  • Institutions make an annual disclosure that informs students that the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials may subject them to criminal and civil penalties and describes the steps that institutions will take to detect and punish illegal distribution of copyrighted materials.

  • Institutions certify to the Secretary of Education that they have developed plans to "effectively combat" the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material.

  • Institutions, "to the extent practicable," offer alternatives to illegal file sharing.

  • Institutions identify procedures for periodically reviewing the effectiveness of the plans to combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials.

Downloading, copying and sharing material, such as music, movies, games, and applications, for which the copyright holder has not given you rights is both against the law and Lake Washington Institute of Technology's information technology Acceptable Use Policy for both employees and students.

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 website of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQs.

Violation of LWIT's Acceptable Use Policy is a violation of the student code of conduct and LWIT personnel policies and may lead to disciplinary as outlined in the Student Handbook or LWIT Policies & Procedures Manual.

LWIT combats the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material through a vigorous program of accepting and responding to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices, sometimes referred to as "takedown notices." The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) actively notifies Lake Washington Institute of Technology of locations on our network that are offering and/or receiving copyrighted movies or music recordings for download through peer to peer applications.  IT Services will disable any device or service identified by such notice and will investigate the circumstances which may have triggered the notice.

There are legal alternatives to access copyrighted material. Educause maintains a list at

IT Services will lead an annual review of the effectiveness of the plans described above, and take any corrective action or enact improvements as needed.