Information Technology

Consequences of Illegal Filesharing

Typical Copyright Holder Actions

There are three actions copyright holders typically take. Someone that shares copyrighted material illegally can face any number of these consequences in any order. That means you could face a lawsuit without first receiving a standard violation notice or a pre-settlement letter!

1. Standard DMCA Violation Notice (a.k.a. Take-down Notice)

A Standard Alleged DMCA Violation Notice is basically a warning message that does not contain a threat of legal action. It contains elements that can be associated with network use, and requests the university to "internally identify" and then forward the letter to the individual associated with those elements.

When the University receives a take-down notice, the machine responsible for the alleged DMCA violation is temporarily blocked from accessing ResNet. If the machine tries to access any web page from ResNet, it will be forwarded to a page notifying the user of the DMCA violation. In order to resume normal access to ResNet, the user must read the information presented on the warning page and click a button acknowledging that they have read and understand the presented material. A copy of the violation notice is also sent to University Housing and Food Service, and residents can expect to face disciplinary action with Student Judicial Affairs.

For more information regarding Chico State's process regarding standard DMCA violation notices, check out DMCA Violation Notices.

2. Pre-settlement Letters Related to Alleged DMCA Violations

Pre-settlement notices began being delivered in March of 2007. This is a request from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), or another copyright holder or representative of a copyright holder. It contains elements that can be associated with network use, and requests the university to "internally identify" and then forward the letter to the individual associated with those elements. These letters provide the recipients with a limited time to contact the sender and pay a settlement fee. If the recipient chooses to not pay the fee, the sender will sue the recipient.

3. Lawsuit

A copyright holder can choose to bring a civil lawsuit against alleged violators. This can result in substantial financial loss due to legal fees and paid damages depending on the outcome of the suit.

DMCA Violation Notices

DMCA Violation Notices are the most common document served to universities by copyright holders in response to illegal sharing of copyrighted material. For information on other possible consequences of illegal file sharing, please see above. Email ITSS at with any questions.

The process, in general

  1. The university receives a notice from a copyright holder (e.g. The MPAA, the RIAA, Sony/Columbia).
  2. IT Support Services determines the owner of the computer that was sharing the files and the following actions are taken:
    • The computer is temporarily removed from the network.
    • An email is sent to the student's Chico State email account.
    • A copy of the notice is sent to University Housing and Food Services
  3. At this point, if the resident tries to navigate to any web page from his/her computer he/she will be presented with a page warning that the computer has been blocked from the network due to illegal file-sharing. A copy of the original notice is displayed on this page. In order for the resident's computer to be reconnected to the network, the resident must:
    1. Read the contents of the warning page.
    2. Acknowledge that he/she has read and understands the contents of the page by clicking a button at the bottom of the page.
  4. The computer will then be allowed back onto ResNet, and an email confirming that the resident has read the page will be sent to the resident's Chico State email account and the ResNet coordinator.

Repeat Offenders

If the university receives a notice for a resident that has already gone through the above process, that resident will face disciplinary action with Student Judicial Affairs, and could have his or her connection to ResNet suspended indefinitely.

Additional Resources and Related Information

  • Reminder Mailer/Email (PDF) - The reminder mailer and email that is sent to all residents when they move in and periodically during the school year.
  • File Sharing Advisory (PDF) - This is mailed to each resident before they move in.
  • Violation Notice Email (PDF) - The email sent to a student when their computer is taken offline.
  • Example DMCA Notice (PDF) - An example of the notices that the university receives from copyright holders. IT Support Services uses the IP address and timestamp in the notice to determine which computer was sharing the files.