Messiah University Annual Copyright Infringement Notice


Annual Copyright Infringement Notice

Messiah University is obligated under federal law to inform students and employees that unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject the responsible party to civil and criminal liabilities.

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 and 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 FAQs at

Messiah University maintains and enforces policies with respect to unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing by students and employees. These policies include taking appropriate disciplinary actions against persons who engage in illegal downloading or unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials using the institution’s information technology system. Substantiated violations of these policies could lead to sanctions including suspension of students or termination of employees.

For more on Messiah University’s policy, process and peer-to-peer file-sharing, see:

For more information on copyright, see: