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Information Technology

Statement on Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Materials and Penalties for Violation of Federal Law

Posted on Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Steve Moon

Information Technology Services
Authorized “Agent” per the
Digital Millennium Act
December 2010

Respect for a person's work and personal expression is especially critical in a computer environment because electronic information is volatile and easily reproduced. UNI will not condone actions that infringe copyrights or violate property rights, including those rights applicable to computer software or digital media (music and video).   The unauthorized sharing of copyright protected materials is a violation of Federal law and university policy covering the appropriate use of computer resources and copyright protected materials. 

Unauthorized distribution of copyright protected materials, including unauthorized  peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal penalties,  and university disciplinary actions.

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



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 FAQ's at











Policy Type: 
December 2010