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Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Materials

West Virginia State University reminds all staff, faculty and students that it is illegal to share copyrighted materials without permission of the owner.  This includes sharing of music, movies, videos, electronic texts or other copyrighted works.  Everyone is required to adhere to the practices stated in Section 7 - “Copyright and Intellectual Rights” in the West Virginia State University Board of Governors Policy #53. The policy is included in Student Handbook and posted on the University’s website. It specifically addresses copyright issues.

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, and 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 www.copyright.gov, especially their FAQ's at www.copyright.gov/help/faq.

The Motion Picture Association of America (http://www.mpaa.org/) maintains up-to-date and comprehensive compendia of legal sources.  EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology, also maintains a list of legal sources of online content: http://www.educause.edu/legalcontent

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