Copyright Compliance

Members of the Lincoln University community are expected to be mindful of the restrictions imposed on them by copyright law as well as the rights conferred on them by the fair use exemption to the copyright laws.

Simply put, “copyright” says that you are prohibited from using a work unless you own the copyright or have permission; “fair use” says that you may use the work with neither copyright ownership nor permission if your use is indeed fair under the legal criteria set forth in the “fair use policy”.(More details:

Copyright Infringement

Lincoln University supports efforts to eliminate the illegal distribution of copyrighted material. Lincoln University students are prohibited from using the Lincoln University network to illegally download or share music, video and all other copyrighted intellectual property.

Be aware that illegal forms of downloading and file-sharing as well as the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, are violations of the law and may subject students not only to academic sanctions from the college but also criminal and civil penalties.

Summary of Civil and Criminal 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 $250,00 per offense. For more information, please see the website of the U.S. Copyright Office at

Legal Alternatives for Acquiring Copyrighted Material 

Students have access to Lincoln University Library’s resources via subscriptions to numerous online databases. Additionally, a fairly exhaustive list of web sites from which you may legally obtain copyrighted material is published by EDUCASE: Legal Sources of Online Content.