Understanding Copyright Law
Learn more about copyright law here.
Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violating 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
The website for the U. S. Copyright Office is www.copyright.gov. The FAQ link is www.copyright.gov/help/faq.
Responsible Use of Information Technology Resources
Read Otterbein's policies on computer use here.