File-Sharing Copyright Awareness

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Federal Copyright Violation Penalties. Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission of 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 State Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of 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 their FAQ's at

State Technical College of Missouri Procedures and Sanctions. Upon receipt of a copyright infringement notice or upon detection of an alleged violation, Information Technology will pursue identification of the infringing user. First time offenders will be disconnected from the network and sent a notification of infringement as well as a request to agree not to share copyrighted material on the College network without proper permission. Further infringements will be reported to the Dean of Students for further discipline. Penalties for copyright infringement range from the loss of computer resources to dismissal from the College, prosecution, and/or civil action.

See Article STC P2P Copyright Violation Prevention Plan.

Legal Alternatives to Unauthorized Downloading. This website,, provides links to a number of websites where content can be obtained legally. The site is maintained by EDUCAUSE.