Copyright infringement is a legal offense that involves the unauthorized use or distribution of someone else's creative work, which can include writings, songs, video clips and movies, visual art, or other creative works, and is punishable under federal law.
The University does not condone copyright infringement by students. Students who copy or communicate copyright-protected works should either obtain the permission of the copyright owner or be satisfied that copying or communicating the works falls within one of the exemptions in the Copyright Act.
If students do not have copyright permission and have a charge of copyright infringement brought against them by a copyright holder the student will be liable for any damages. Academic and/or non-academic misconduct penalties may apply (for more information about academic conduct please contact the Office of Academic Integrity).
There are several ways a copyright holder can seek compensation for infringement of his or her copyright. One way is to sue the individual, asking the courts to award monetary compensation. The pre-established damages used in civil litigation are called statutory damages. Statutory damages for infringement for non-commercial purposes by individuals can be between $100 to $5,000 in total damages. For example, someone who downloads five songs illegally could face penalties ranging from $100 to a maximum of $5,000.
Copyright infringement is not the same as plagiarism, though there are similarities. Essentially, copyright infringement is about legality, and plagiarism is about academic integrity. You may also want to read our information page on Plagiarism.