Is downloading copyrighted material illegal?

Yes!  The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) criminalizes copying and distribution of electronic copyrighted material.  In addition, the unauthorized copying or downloading of copyrighted material violates the Northeastern University Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).  The AUP dictates that all members of the Northeastern community (students, faculty, and staff) may not share, download, or make available any copyrighted material via (but not limited to) peer-to-peer file sharing, email, file sharing websites, ftp servers, and NEU services.

Please note the University position on Management of Copyright Complaints, which can be read at:
http://www.northeastern.edu/securenu/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Copyright_Complaint_Mgmt_09.pdf