Copyright Infringement Policies and Sanctions

Acceptable Use Policy

Northwest University’s Acceptable Use Policy

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 asses costs and attorney’s fees.  For details, see Title 17, United State 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 web site of the U.S. Copyright Office

Movies, Television, and Public Performances 

Northwest University students are subject to copyright laws and guidelines governing public performances, including movies. Using discernment of their viewing choice, students may watch movies in their own residence hall room or apartment. Prior to hosting a movie screening, “Public Performance Rights” must be purchased through a legal licensing organization. Purchasing or renting a movie is not the same as purchasing a public performance license. 

A screening is considered a public performance, and therefore not permitted, if viewed: 

  • in a residence hall room or apartment for an event, program, or large number of guests 
  • in residence hall lounges 
  • in the Dining Hall and the Aerie 
  • in the Chapel 
  • in classrooms and conference rooms except during course instruction 
  • at any outdoor location on campus 

Further information, including specific guidelines about movie viewing and public performance, is available on the Student Development Eagle webpage.