Ohio University

Ohio University Copyright Compliance

Copyright Law

The unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject users of Ohio University's network to civil and criminal liabilities.

Legal Penalties

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 U.S. Copyright Office website.

University Penalties

In addition to civil and criminal penalties, you may face additional University sanctions under Policy 91.003 - Acceptable Usage:

"Users who do not comply with this policy or related university information security standards may be denied access to information technology (“IT”) resources, as well as be subjected to disciplinary action."

University Response

Ohio University makes compliance with copyright laws a priority. As a result, all copyright notices are taken seriously. We are able to monitor anomalies in bandwidth usage within our network and pair this with our DMCA processing system. Upon receipt of a DMCA notice, we take steps to identify and send the appropriate notice to the individual and interrupt network access until this identification and delivery occurs.


Educause maintains a list of legal alternatives for downloading content.