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Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) Notice

Annual HEOA Notice to WKU Students

The following message is sent annually by email to all students to inform them of WKU policy and federal law regarding the electronic distribution of copyrighted materials.  This message is sent to comply with the requirements of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA).

WKU Policy

Any method of distributing copyrighted materials without approval of the copyright owner, including the use of peer‐to‐peer (P2P) file‐sharing programs such as BitTorrent to download or distribute such materials, is a violation of University policy.  Copyright infringement is addressed in the WKU Information Technology Acceptable Use Policy.  Violation may result in the disabling of your Internet/network access until the offending material is removed.  Repeat offenders will be reported to the Office of Judicial Affairs for potential disciplinary action.

WKU does not actively search for students sharing files.  However, copyright owners and organizations representing them often monitor for users sharing movies, music, or software and in turn contact the University to stop the activity.


If WKU receives a copyright complaint regarding your computer’s activity:

  • Your Internet/network access will be disabled;
  • You will be required contact the ITS Service Desk via http://www.wku.edu/its/contact;
  • The ITS Service Desk will assist you to remove the copyrighted files and uninstall all file‐sharing programs; and
  • Once the infringing material and program have been removed, your network access will be restored.


Federal Law

Unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material may subject you to civil and criminal liabilities including fines and imprisonment.


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 may also assess costs and attorney's 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 www.copyright.gov, and view their FAQ at www.copyright.gov/help/faq.

Need Assistance?

The WKU ITS Service Desk is here to help. Give us a call, chat with a representative online, use the Self-Help Knowledge Base and more.

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 Last Modified 9/12/18