Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

Stop illegal file sharing and consequently stop inconveniences like fines

What makes file sharing illegal?

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a piece of legislation signed into law in 1998 defining the illegal downloading and/or sharing of copyrighted material. LSU is required to investigate DMCA complaints and take action to remove infringing content.

How does this apply to me?

Copyright holders (or organizations acting on their behalf) actively monitor for devices sharing their content (e.g. movies, music, software, etc). If they discover you sharing or downloading over LSU’s network, they may send LSU a DMCA complaint.

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

Here is the bottom line: If you download or distribute copyrighted media without authorization from the copyright owner, you are breaking the law. Distribution can mean anything from “sharing” media files on the Internet to burning multiple copies of copyrighted media.

What happens if I cause DMCA complaint?

Should a DMCA complaint be traced back to your account, the following will happen depending on if this is the user’s first or second offense:

1st Offense

  • restricted network access for owner’s devices

  • complete Illegal File Sharing Moodle Course & Quiz

2nd Offense

  • restricted network access for owner’s devices

  • assessed $50 dollar fine

  • incident to be noted on student’s academic record

  • hold place on account preventing transcript requests, course registration, etc

  • referred to the Dean of Students Office for violation of the LSU Code of Student Conduct

Where can I  legally download music, movies, and other content?

Educause maintains a list of legal sources of online content.

Civil and Criminal penalties for violation of Federal Copyright Laws

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 Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQ’s at

The University does not forward your information to copyright complainants without a court-ordered subpoena.

cartoon depicting companies that send DMCA violations


Other FAQs

What does 1st and 2nd offense mean? How do I know which one I am on?

LSU can receive multiple complaints for different files being shared by the same user. Though LSU investigates files indicated in DMCA complaints, users who are going through the DMCA procedure for the first time are considered on their first offense. Subsequent violations by a user after going through the DMCA procedure are considered a second offense and may incur a $50 fee and must complete other additional procedures.

If I downloaded copyrighted files off campus, this shouldn't be an issue, right?

This is incorrect. Running file sharing software that actively shares copyrighted work could still cause LSU to receive a DMCA complaint. As far as copyright owners are concerned, there is little difference between downloading and sharing their copyrighted works. In one case, you illegally downloaded a file. In the other, you are enabling others to illegally download from you. In either scenario, you are still participating in piracy and are responsible for complaints traced back to your PAWS ID.

What do you mean by 'file-sharing' software?

'File sharing software' include applications like Google Drive and Dropbox, however the bulk of DMCA complaints come from peer-to-peer (P2P) protocols like BitTorrent (e.g. uTorrent, Vuze/Azureus, Transmission, etc) or other P2P software like Ares and Frostwire.

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

Yes, if you allow another individual to use your assigned LSU account you are still responsible. PS-107 Computer Users’ Responsibilities, states that “each user of computing resources shall secure and maintain computer accounts, passwords, and other types of authorization in confidence, and inform ITS immediately if a known or suspected security breach occurs". Please see LSU IT Policies page for additional details.

A family member installed sharing software and downloaded copyrighted material illegally to cause a DMCA violation; am I responsible?

Yes, you are responsible for the actions of your computer and other devices while they are connected to LSU's network, which includes illegally sharing copyrighted content.

Am I allowed to have file sharing software installed on my computer?

In general, yes. File sharing software does serve legitimate purposes. The core issue of DMCA violations are not the software installed but how it is used - to download or share copyrighted material illegally. If you are not using file sharing software for legitimate purposes, we recommend uninstalling the software to prevent potential DMCA violations.

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 movie/music/etc 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 to share their content, then it is not legal for you to download it.

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

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