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Copyright Infringement

What is copyright infringement? “As a general matter, copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner.” (U.S. Copyright Office. 2019. Definitions. Retrieved from here. Copyright infringement includes peer-to-peer file sharing, downloading or uploading substantial parts of copyrighted works (music, videos, and other digital formats) without authorization, and may subject the perpetrator to civil and criminal liabilities.

Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

Peer-to-peer file sharing is the distribution and sharing of digital media using networking technology.  Individuals using the campus network are expected to be familiar with and to comply with the Norwich University Information Assurance Security Policy and the Norwich University Acceptable Use Policy. Norwich has technical controls in place to enforce the policy.  ITS blocks torrenting of any content from the Internet. It also blocks known sites that distribute material illegally.

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, 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 visit the U.S. Copyright Office at

(“Consumer Information and School Reporting.” February 2019. Retrieved from here.)

Norwich University Copyright Policy

“Norwich University complies with the US Copyright Law. It requires its employees and students to make only proper and fair use of copyrighted works as guided by federal law.” (Norwich University Intellectual Property Policy. Retrieved from here.

Additional copyright information and guides may be found on the Norwich University Copyright Officer’s web page.

Summary of Student Disciplinary Procedures for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws

In addition to the federal legal penalties described above, all Norwich University students charged with copyright infringement will also be subject to disciplinary action under the University Honor Code.  The University Honor Code describes the minimum standard of ethical behavior by which all Norwich students have chosen to live.  The Honor Code reads, “A student will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do.”

Legal Alternatives for Downloading or Otherwise Acquiring Copyrighted Materials

Norwich University maintains a full-service academic library where students may legally access copyrighted materials. See

EDUCAUSE maintains a list of legal alternatives for downloading or otherwise acquiring music, video, images, or other copyrighted material. See

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Norwich University admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.