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Copyright, Fair Use & File Sharing: Annual

Annual Copyright Infringement Disclosure to Students

Alvernia University is required by federal law to inform students that unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject the students to civil and criminal liabilities.

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 their FAQs at

University Policies Including Disciplinary Actions for Violators

Alvernia University requires users of its computing and network resources to operate in accordance with copyright and licensing restrictions and its Responsible Use Policy, Handbook Appendix C.

Violations of university policies could lead to disciplinary action including suspension of students. For more information, please see the Alvernia University Student Handbook.

Legal Alternatives to Unauthorized Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

A comprehensive list of legal alternatives to unauthorized downloading is available at