Disclosures and Consumer Information
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 control the reproduction or distribution of 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 at www.copyright.gov.
College Consequences for Student Violations
If North-West College receives a copyright violation notice relating to student activity, the College will take the following actions:
The student will receive a Copyright Policy Warning in writing. The student will be required to meet with the Campus Director or their designee to review the College’s Copyright Policy and signs the Copyrights Policy Warning acknowledging understanding and agreement. The documentation regarding the Warning will be placed in the student’s disciplinary record.
The student will be considered in violation of the College’s Student Conduct Policy. The student will be placed on Disciplinary Probation. The student will be required to meet with the Campus Director or their designee to review the College’s Copyright Policy and signs the Copyrights Policy Probation notification. The student may be subject to sanctions based on the student’s responsibility in the violation and a history of previous incidents of Conduct Policy violation(s).
Possible sanctions can include but are not limited to:
- Writing an essay regarding copyright infringement
- Required completion of an ethics class
The documentation regarding the Conduct Probation will be placed in the student’s disciplinary record.
The student may be dismissed/terminated from the College. The dismissal/termination can be appealed. The student will be required to meet with the Campus Director or their designee to justify why dismissal/termination is not warranted, including the submission of supporting documentation. The decision of the Campus Director is final. The documentation regarding the dismissal/termination will be placed in the student’s disciplinary record.
Downloading or sharing copyrighted material without the owner’s permission, is breaking the law. But there are many legal alternatives that allow access to songs and movies. To avoid being prosecuted or sued for copyright infringement and to support the artists you love, students should explore the legal alternatives available on the Internet.
Many online services allow customers to download and pay for individual songs, albums, or movies. Most online marketplaces like this allow for the purchase of music and video without restriction. In other words, buyers can play the song or movie purchased on any device.
However, some retailers use Digital Rights Management (DRM) as a means of restricting access to purchased music or movies; this is a way of preventing illegal file sharing. Music and video with DRM can only be played on authorized devices and cannot be shared with others.
Instead of paying for each song or album individually, some companies operate using a subscription model. By paying a monthly fee, customers gain access to a vast library of songs or movies.
One disadvantage of subscribing to a service like this is that once a subscription ends, customers lose access to the library of songs and movies. However, some subscription services also allow for the purchase of songs or movies too.
There are also many free services available on the Web, which offer access to music, videos, and television. Free online radio stations and other multimedia sites provide access to a wide selection of music and video.
For further questions, please contact your Campus Director.