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 website of the U.S. Copyright Office.

Additionally, Moraine Valley students may be held accountable through the Code of Student Conduct. The following are listed as prohibited conduct in the Code of Student Conduct:

  • Computer Misuse – Theft or other abuse of college computing resources, including but not limited to: unauthorized transfer of a file, unauthorized or inappropriate use of a computer.
  • Intellectual Property Infringement – Unauthorized use, copying, sharing, or distribution of music, movies, books, and other copyrighted materials including course materials provided by an instructor, such as the instructor’s notes or PowerPoint presentations, handouts, tests, outlines, and similar materials.

The following sanctions may be imposed upon any student found to have violated the Code of Student Conduct: warning, probation, loss of privileges, fines, restitution, educational sanctions, limited access, no contact order, withdrawal from class, hold, referral, deferred suspension, college suspension, and/or college expulsion.