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Copyright & Statement on Illegal File Sharing

TCNJ’s Statement on Copyright and Illegal Peer-to-Peer file sharing

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.

Under TCNJ’s current judicial structure, any violation of the Computing Access Agreement is a violation of Community Standards and each violation is considered individually for severity. Any violation of the College’s Community Standards may result in sanctions ranging from a warning to expulsion and may also include educational sanctions. The Office of the Dean of Students administers the student conduct function of the College and assigns sanctions that are appropriate based upon the severity of the violation and any prior disciplinary history. The College’s Computing Access Agreement can be found at Computing Access Agreement.

For more information, about copyright law, visit the website for the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQ’s at

For more information about copyright and illegal peer-to-peer filing sharing at TCNJ, visit TCNJ and the HEOA.