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Copyright Infringement Risks

Takedown or Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices are the most common type of copyright infringement notices that Cornell receives. Content owners such as Universal, HBO, Paramount, and the Recording Industry Association of America send these notices to the Internet Service Provider from which the file was made available (in our case, Cornell University).

For full details about the DMCA, see Digital Millennium Copyright Act from the EDUCAUSE Library.

The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) requires higher education institutions, including Cornell, to inform students annually about copyright infringement and DMCA notice risks.

See the 2017 annual student notice on the Verified Communications page (CUWebLogin required).

Video: Risks of File Sharing on Cornell Networks (3 min)

Watch the video.


Cornell University does not monitor its networks for content, but content owners aim their detection systems at campus networks, including Cornell's network, because it's the perfect “fish in a barrel” scenario:

  1. We have high-speed networks.
  2. Demographics of our residential population match those of proven fileshare users.

In particular, content owners look for peer-to-peer filesharing programs violating copyrights by distributing music, movies, television, games, or software. See "How You Can Be Identified as Sharing Files," below.

Student Guide: How to Protect Yourself

Educate Yourself About Copyright Risks

  • Watch the three-minute Cornell Copyright Education Video.
  • If your computer is identified, the following occurs:
    First offense: Network Quarantine blocks access to the Cornell network for the device. Self release is authorized.  You acknowledge responsibility for the instructions included in the notice by selecting “I Understand” on the Network Quarantine web page. Then, network access is restored for the device during normal business hours.  Deliberate evasion of Network Quarantine is pursued as a violation of university policy.
    Second offense: Network Quarantine blocks access to the Cornell network for the device. Self release is NOT authorized. You are required to complete a $35 eCornell copyright law tutorial, and submit a cease and desist statement that confirms all required actions have been completed. Then, network access is restored for the device during normal business hours.
    Third offense: Network Quarantine blocks access to the Cornell network for the device. Self release is NOT authorized. You are referred to the Judicial Administrator for repeated non-compliance with university policies and violation of the Campus Code of Conduct. You may lose network access for ALL Cornell network registered devices for a period of 28 days. You will be able to use public Computer Labs for access to the Internet during this time.
  • Don't install Peer-to-Peer filesharing software on your computer.
    Don't use a University network for file sharing.
    Secure your Wi-Fi router. If other people use your Wi-Fi for downloading copyrighted material, you could be held responsible.

Uninstall Fileshare Programs

Do this before connecting to the Cornell network anywhere on campus.

Install Antivirus

Help protect your computer from being compromised. To see more information, visit Antivirus.

How You Can Be Identified as Sharing Files

Content owners, such as the Universal, HBO, Paramount, and the Recording Industry Association of America often track distribution of intellectual property on the Internet using the same Peer to Peer software as people who share files. They actively search for a particular copyrighted work on the Internet and when they find their copyrighted work, they are able to identify the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the file sharer. They may then issue an infringement notice to the Internet Service Provider (ISP) from which the file was being made available. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998, Cornell is designated as an ISP and is notified of copyright infringement occurring on the campus network.

How Cornell Identifies the Person Who Received the DMCA Notice

Once the University receives an infringement notice identifying a Cornell network user by a Cornell IP (Internet Protocol) address, Cornell can identify the user. An identified Cornell IP address can include any of your network registrations, the static address of a computer in a department at Cornell, or an IP address that you are assigned when you use the Cornell VPN network.

On Cornell Wi-Fi Networks

To use the Cornell Wi-Fi network, you have to register the unique hardware address of your computer’s Wi-Fi card. Cornell Wi-Fi addresses are dynamically assigned. This means that any number of people may use the same address throughout the day. Whenever you are given a roaming IP address and anytime your computer talks to the Wi-Fi network, the hardware address of your computer’s Wi-Fi card is recorded in the Wi-Fi logs. This hardware address can be matched to your NetID using your network registration.

Cornell Wired Connections in Residence Halls

To use a wired connection, you register the hardware address of your Ethernet card with the University. When you register, a wired IP addresses is assigned to your NetID for the remainder of the school year (unless you delete the registration).

Someone Using Your Wi-Fi Router

If you’ve registered your Wi-Fi router using your NetID, any activity that occurs on the router is tracked back to you. This means that if your roommate is downloading a movie using the Wi-Fi connection you set up in your residence hall, you are likely to receive a complaint since you are the registered owner of the IP address.

Logging into Cornell VPN network

You can access restricted Cornell resources (such as Library materials) from off-campus by using the Cornell VPN network. When you log onto Cornell VPN, your NetID is assigned a Cornell IP address and a record is created in the VPN logs. That IP address is assigned to you until you log off.

About this Guide

Last updated: 

October 1, 2017

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