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Copyright and Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

Copyright infringement is use 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.

Copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. Anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered by a court to pay 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 also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For more information see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.

Criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense for “willful”copyright infringement.


Dr. Bo Hall
Dean of Student Services