The University of Wolverhampton

Stay Legal Online

It can be easy to download, copy and share software, music, film, video and information from the Internet, but it is illegal if the material is copyright. It is also a breach of the University ICT Acceptable Use Policy (PDF 299K, Downloads file) if you break copyright when using the University’s IT network.

Misuse of the network may lead to disciplinary proceedings and may even result in formal legal action through the criminal courts.

If you connect your computer, phone or other electronic device to the University's IT network you should:

Peer 2 Peer (P2P) file sharing software

P2P applications such as BitTorrent, BearShare,Vuze, Morpheus, iMesh and Lucky Wire, allow you to share files e.g. music, movies and software with other people over the Internet but they also make it easy for you to break the law. You could be sharing copyright-protected files without knowing it. More about the risks from OnGuard Online

Commercial organisations actively monitor internet file sharing activity and are able to trace file sharing and downloads to an individual PC/network connection. If a copyright infringement is traced to a PC connected to the University network disciplinary action will be taken

To help protect yourself, we recommend that you follow this advice:

  • Remove P2P file sharing software before connecting personally owned devices to the University wireless network or in University Accommodation.

  • If you need to use it, make sure you know how to use it safely and disable/turn off file share access to the files on your computer. By default, most of these applications allow access to some or all of your folders. This means that you are sharing files in these folders with anyone else who has the application.
  • P2P Terminator is a free download. This allows you to turn file sharing on and off with a mouse click, so you can disable file-sharing while on campus. If you install this software, be aware that:

  • You need to reset it to disable file-sharing every time you reboot your computer.
  • Installation of this software is at your own risk and we cannot assist with its installation or operation. The University is not responsible for performance issues or loss of data which may occur as a result of the installation of the software.
  • It is your responsibility to check compatibility with your computer's operating system.

Copyright and file sharing policy

The University's ICT Acceptable Use Policy (PDF 299K, Downloads file) states that you should not illegally share copyrighted material over the University’s IT network. This includes email, web pages, ftp, Hotline, IRC and peer-to-peer file sharing. It applies to both University owned computers as well as your personal laptop and other electronic devices.

What’s covered by copyright?

All types of media are subject to copyright including books, film, music, software and pictures. If you use, download or publish any of these media types it is your responsibility to ensure that you have the legal right to use the media in that way.

University of Wolverhampton Disciplinary Procedure

The University has a responsibility both under criminal law and to comply with the JANET Acceptable Use Policy to take action to prevent illegal behaviour and enforce penalties against individuals who breach copyright.

Infringements of copyright, unauthorised distribution and illegal downloading fall within the Student Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedure and action will be taken as follows:

First Infringement Notification

  • Student’s access to the wireless and accommodation networks using personal devices is suspended for 28 days.

Second Infringement Notification

  • Student’s access to the wireless and accommodation networks using personal devices is suspended for an indefinite period.
  • Student disciplinary procedure is invoked and liability to fine or suspension.

Third Infringement Notification

  • Student’s IT account fully suspended.
  • Student disciplinary procedure is invoked and liability to fine or suspension or exclusion from the University.

Criminal and Civil Legislative Penalties

In addition to the University’s disciplinary procedure, there are several criminal and civil legislative penalties that the individual can incur including:

  1. Damages and compensation for loss of profits through the civil courts
  2. Criminal law provides a sentence of six months imprisonment and or a fine of up to £50,000 for a copyright infringement heard at a Magistrates Court. The maximum penalty at Crown Court is 10 years imprisonment, plus the fine.

More information about the legislative penalties can be found in the Digital Economy Act 2010 and the Intellectual Property Office - Legislation.

Further information

Respect Copyrights provides guidance on legal downloading and avoiding digital piracy.

For further advice about file sharing, please contact the IT Service Desk on ext. 2000 or 01902-32 2000.

More information about copyright can be found on the Learning Centres' website.

Date last modified: March 2014