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Office of Information Security

Office of Information Security

Copyright Infringement

Combating Illegal File Sharing

Columbus State University takes a strong stand against unlawful acquisition and/or distribution of all copyrighted materials, which includes music, movies and software. In the event that the University receives a notification of claimed infringement from a copyright owner or other agents concerning your internet activity, Federal law requires that the University investigate and take appropriate action, as needed.

Understand, you are responsible for the activity associated with your IP address.

Copyright on Campus
Campus Downloading Video
Protect Yourself. Do it Legally.

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 it's FAQ's at

Other Links

Library Copyright Guides and Resources

USA Today Article "Colleges Bust File Sharing"

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA)

Legal Sources of Online Content

Campus Downloading Booklet

MPAA Letter to College & University Presidents

Related Links:  Glossary of Terms