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File Sharing at Pepperdine


File sharing of copyrighted works, such as commercial music and videos, is illegal. Faculty, staff, and student use of the Pepperdine University network is governed by the Computer and Network Responsible Use Policy, which prohibits illegal downloading and file sharing. A notice about illegal download or publishing of copyrighted materials is emailed in the Fall term to all faculty, staff, and students (current notice in PDF).

Information on illegal file sharing:

Penalties for sharing copyrighted files


Upon receipt of a Copyright Violation notice, the computer sharing the copyrighted files is blocked, and the person's dean or supervisor is notified. Technical staff are required to review the computer and certify that sharing of copyrighted materials is stopped and file sharing programs are removed. Subsequent notices for the same person are referred to the person's dean or supervisor for academic and/or administrative penalty, in addition to blocking the computer.


There are civil and criminal penalties for violation of federal copyright laws, which may be summarized as follows:

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 can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' 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, especially their FAQs at

How to avoid penalties

  1. Do not use file-sharing software (also known as peer-to-peer or p2p software) to download copyrighted media. You MUST have the copyright owner's permission or your download is illegal!
    • Most programs that let you download songs and movies without payment, share your computer's files to the Internet by default.
    • Popular file-sharing programs used to obtain media illegally include: Ares, Bearshare, Bittorrent, eDonkey, Gnutella, KaZaa, Limewire, Morpheus, Warez P2P and many others.
  2. Use legal downloading services, such as Amazon, iTunes, Rhapsody, Movielink, etc. 
  3. Do not share media you obtained legally, except using methods the copyright holder permits (iTunes streaming, etc.). Most file-sharing software, by default, finds, advertises and shares all music and movies on your computer regardless of whether you have the right to share/upload these files.
  4. Protect your computer from malicious software, by not installing file-sharing software. While malware rarely installs file-sharing software, that software is routinely exploited by criminals as they provide a distribution channel for 'free' files that let them steal your information.

Technical questions? Bring your computer into Pepperdine's Tech Central to have one of our technicians review your computer and make recommendations on turning off file sharing.

Laws Governing Illegal File Sharing

Additional Resources

As of 2016, known peer-to-peer file sharing is blocked on the Pepperdine network, because it is overwhelmingly used for consuming and sharing unauthorized copies of copyrighted works. Please contact the Information Security Office at if you have any questions or concerns related to file sharing on the Pepperdine campus.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with Tech Central to have a technician assist with the removal of file-sharing software, please email


Reviewed 7.29.2020

Tech Central

Phone: 310.506.4357 (HELP)

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