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Copyright Infringement

Policy on Copyright Infringement

Unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, is considered copyright infringement, is strictly prohibited by the institution, and may subject violators to civil and criminal liabilities as provided by federal law.

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, unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, or downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority, constitutes an infringement.

Institutional sanctions for copyright infringement, including the illegal downloading or unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials, using the institution’s information technology system, will include written warning, suspension, or expulsion from school.

Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws

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 website of the U.S. Copyright Office at www.copyright.gov
Copy equipment at the School may not be used to copy copyrighted material. In addition, none of the material listed below may be copied by students or employees. Copyrightable works include the following categories:

  1. Literary works
  2. Musical works, including any accompanying words
  3. Dramatic works, including any accompanying music
  4. Pantomimes and choreographic work
  5. Pictorial, graphic, and sculptured works
  6. Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  7. Sound recordings
  8. Architectural worksz

These categories should be viewed broadly. For example, computer programs and most “compilations” may be registered as “literary works;” maps and architectural plans may be registered as “pictorial, graphic, and sculptured works.”


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