University of Southampton


How do I guard against illegal downloading, and what do I need to know?

Everything you need to know about illegal downloading can be found below:

File sharing

File sharing programs are not illegal. However, if they are used to copy content which is in breach of copyright, then the act of copying is illegal. The fact that it is available to download does not mean it is legally available. For the act to be legal the person providing or taking the copy must have the legal agreement of the copyright owner.

It is important to note that a licence to use the downloading or sharing software does not give permission to copy content which is copyrighted, taking it illegally can be regarded as theft, it is basically the same as stealing something from a shop.

What are the penalties for illegal downloading?

The copyright holder can seek damages through the courts for loss of income. This can be based on the number of copies made of the work, plus court costs.

If you abuse the terms and conditions of your Internet service provider they may suspend or terminate your access.

At the University you would be in breach of University regulations and could face disciplinary action.

If I download something, can it be traced back to me?


All computers have an internet address. This can be recorded when they make connections to other computers.

Copyright owners can make use of this information to contact the organisation which connects the computer to the network/internet (the service provider).

The University receives notifications of any illegal downloading that has been identified as coming from the University network.

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