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copyrighted digital materials

Excerpt from the Digital Copyright Safeguards for Students Policy

It is a violation of federal law and college policy to share and/or distribute copyrighted materials without the permission of the copyright holder. Violators are subject to civil and criminal prosecution, as well as personal sanctions as specified in college policy.


The most common way that illegal sharing is done on campus is through the use of file sharing software, often called “peer-to-peer” or “P2P” software. Common brand names of this type of software include KaZaA, BitTorrent and Gnutella. While this type of software is not illegal, if it is installed on a computer extreme care must be used to ensure it is not used illegally.

File sharing software is frequently used to download music, motion pictures, and computer software. Users often do not realize that this type of software may turn their computer into a server, or file upload site, even without their knowledge or intent. Files stored on a computer so configured can then be illegally shared with every other person connected to the Internet.


Bellevue College technical support personnel monitor all activity on the college network. In addition, representative of the motion picture, music recording, and software industries actively and aggressively monitor the Internet to discover incidents of illegal file sharing. When violations are discovered, they contact thenetwork owner and/or the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and rightfully demand that the offending device be disconnected from the network.

Bellevue College is considered the ISP for all computers attached to the college network and can readily identify individuals using the college network— computer use at the college is NOT anonymous. To protect the college and network users from further culpability under federal copyright law or college policy, the college will disable network access for any user or device for which a complaint of copyright infringement has been received. This disconnection will continue until the complaint can be resolved


Internal resolution of the complaint may require reconfiguring and/or removal of all P2P software from the computer used before access to the network is restored, and may also result in a college disciplinary review. In such a review, the full range of Bellevue College disciplinary sanctions is available, including:

1. Permanent loss of computer use privileges;
2. Denial of future access to Bellevue College IT resources;
3. Disciplinary action – any disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with
appropriate procedures as established by the Dean of Student Success;
4. Dismissal from the college; and/or
5. Legal action.

Internal actions taken by the college to remedy a violation does not preclude
the copyright holder from seeking civil and/or criminal prosecution for copyright
infringement under state, local,or federal statutes. The federal law specifies that
violators can be liable for:

  • Litigation costs, attorney fees, and actual damages, or statutory damages of
    $750 to $30,000 for EACH work infringed. The maximum is raised to $150,000
    for cases of “willful infringement.”
  • Actions taken to circumvent technological measures that are used to control
    access to copyrighted works or to prevent infringement of the exclusive
    rights of copyright owners are punishable by awards of statutory damages of
    $200 to $2,500 for EACH act of circumvention. This may include circumventing
    Bellevue College computer or network protections.
    Example: Ripping a DVD and removing the copy protection.
  • Statutory damages of $2,500-$25,000 for removal or alteration of copyright
    management information.
    Example: Ripping a DVD and not including the FBI warning in the copy.
  • Under certain circumstances, criminal penalties up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment.

    Bellevue College encourages all students to be aware of their rights and responsibilities
    with regard to copyrighted materials, and has posted links to a number
    of legal resources for enjoying music or movies online on its website at: