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Copyright: Copyright Infringement Penalties

Copyright Infringement Penalties

Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of a copyright holder’s exclusive right as defined in the U.S. Copyright Act. For infringement to occur, the copyright holder must have a valid copyright, the infringer must have access to the copyrighted work, and the infringing use must be outside of the copyright exceptions (See Fair Use, Traditional Classroom Instruction, Virtual Classroom Instruction).


The severity of the copyright infringement helps indicate the severity of the penalty. The possible legal penalties for copyright infringement are:

* Court injunction stops the infringing acts

* Court impoundment and/or destruction of the illegal works

* Infringer pays the actual dollar amount of damages and profits

* Infringer pays $200 to $150,000 for each work infringed

* Infringer pays for all attorneys’ fees and court costs

* Infringer goes to prison

The unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials by students, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject them to civil and criminal liabilities.

Further information regarding Copyright Infringement, RHIT’s policies with respect to unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, and disciplinary actions taken against students who engage in illegal downloading or unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials using the school’s information technology system are available on the EIT’s Knowledgebase.