University of Wisconsin–Madison
Download symbol and black cloud

Illegal downloading continues trend at UW-Madison

Illegal downloading by students continues to decline for a seventh straight semester at UW-Madison.

The latest data from the Office of Cybersecurity shows 213 notices of copyright violations have been sent to students on campus this year. That includes 173 notices sent in the Spring 2017 semester, and just 40 violations noted thus far in the Fall.

That equates to a 85% drop from 2016 totals, and a 89% drop from 2015 totals.



Fines for downloading and sharing copyrighted content is still a very real problem. Fines can, and have, reached into the thousands of dollars. For those on the UW network, it’s important to understand what copyright violations are, how they work, and how you can avoid getting one.

When a violation happens:

First Notice: The UW Office of Cybersecurity sends a notice. This results in a temporarily loss of ResNet Internet access (if applicable) until the alleged infringement ceases.

Second Notice: The UW Office of Cybersecurity sends a warning letter. This results in a loss of wireless and ResNet internet access. Completing an online copyright awareness quiz and a computer check up, to scan for malware or file sharing applications are required to get access back.

Third Notice: A loss of UW-Madison network internet access. A report is sent to the Dean of Students, who can decide whether to grant access back. Aside from the loss of a vital academic resource, students could also be liable to pay fees.

It should be noted that file sharing is legal, but sharing copyright protected materials without proper permission violates federal law.

The most common method of file sharing is through the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) software. Depending on the program or application, it’s even possible for a user to engage in file sharing, but not necessarily know it’s happening.

UW-Madison depends on copyright and other laws to protect its teaching and research. The university also cooperates with copyright holders who believe that illegal file sharing is occurring on university networks. Illegal file sharing can lead to the loss of the university’s internet access and possibly money out of your pocket.

If you have questions about file sharing, including whether you might be doing it and not know it, contact the DoIT Help Desk.