Message from the Office of the CIO

Summary of Consumer Information on Copyrighted Materials

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 requires the university to annually notify students about consumer information on the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials through illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property. This information can also be beneficial to faculty and staff.

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 FAQ's at

University Sanctions for Violating Copyright Laws

The university has adopted policies and procedures to combat copyright infringement and unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing. Disciplinary action may be taken against individuals who engage in illegal downloading or the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials using the university’s network. Such disciplinary action may be taken in accordance with the Code of Student Conduct and/or applicable Human Resource policies and procedures. Potential sanctions under the Code of Student Conduct include mandatory education; written assignments pertaining to illegal file sharing; exclusion from the residential network and additional sanctions up to and including suspension or dismissal from the university as warranted.

For more information, please see the University’s Plan to Effectively Combat Copyright Infringement at Paper copies of the information are available at the BuckeyeBar, 60A Thompson Library, or upon request.

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Additional resources include the following:


Responsible use of university computing and network resources (copyright):

Link to the list of legal downloading resources provided by EDUCAUSE:

Copyright Help Center at OSU Libraries