Digital Millennium Copyright Act

The university is able to make network resources and internet access available to students, in part, because of the legal protections provided by the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA). In addition, your use of the university’s network resources and internet access is governed by GW's Acceptable Use Policy for Computing Systems and Services.  The use of university resources to download, duplicate, or distribute copyrighted materials is strictly prohibited. 

GW policy prohibits members of the university community from engaging in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including the use of peer-to-peer file sharing programs to download or upload copyrighted material using GW's computer network.  Some examples of the copyrighted material include, but are not limited to, music, videos, movies, tv shows, games, textbooks, dramatic plays, musical scores, photographs, etc.

Students found to engage the unauthorized copying and/or distribution of intellectual property may be subject to disciplinary action under the “Code of Student Conduct,” where potential outcomes include but are not limited to, losing access to the university computer network. 

Students may also face independent civil or criminal action from the copyright owner related to the violation, which includes monetary fines.  For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.

More information about DMCA, including legal sources to download copyrighted material, is available on the Student Technology Guide.  Students may also reference the following external information related to about the risks of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing (published by the Federal Trade Commission) intellectual property (published by EDUCAUSE) and legal sources to download copyrighted materials (published by EDUCAUSE).

For more information regarding copyright infringement, please visit the U.S. Copyright Office, which is part of the Library of Congress.  Students can also reference the U.S. Copyright Office’s summary of DMCA, Frequently Asked Questions about this topic, the Circular 1: Copyright Basics (pdf), and searchable database pertaining to copyright records.