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Copyright Infringement

Copyright is controlled by laws passed by Congress, cases heard through the judicial system as well as international treaties that Congress has entered into with other nations such as the Berne Convention.

These laws also attempt to define copyright infringement. The core concept of infringement is using someone else's protected work without their permission. Oftentimes the word infringement is associated with terms such as piracy, illegal downloading or file sharing, bootlegging or simply theft. That portion of the Copyright Act discussing infringement including civil penalties, damages and potential criminal prosectution can be found here.

 A collection of various nations copyright laws can be found at the United Nations UNESCO International Copyright Law Collection.

Exemptions under the TEACH Act

There are a number of exemptions under the TEACH Act that allow for the use of copyrighted materials that would otherwise be considered infringing.

Additional Information on the TEACH Act can be found at the following sites:

Copyright Law and Infringement

Copyright Infringement and 

All members of the Lamar University community (Faculty, Staff, Students, and Visitors) who use campus technology resources are required to abide by the Appropriate Use Policy.

Copyright violations can also constitute breach of local, state, and federal laws. Recently, copyright holders, such as the recording and movie industries, have aggressively pursued offenders and have increasingly focused their efforts on college students. Below is a summary of civil and criminal penalties for violation of federal copyright laws according to the Department of Education:

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 their FAQ's at

In order to avoid these penalties, there are many alternatives to illegal downloading online. A list of legal sites may be found at

For more information, visit