Student Copyright and Infringement Policy

Copyright is the protection provided to authors of “original works of authorship”. Copyright is extended to both published and unpublished works. These types of works include: literary, dramatic, musical and artistic. Copyright gives the author the ability to reproduce, distribute, perform, record and display their work. Copyright also gives the author the authority to allow others to reproduce, distribute, perform, record and display their work. Without consent from the author, the above actions are illegal and copyright is violated.

Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violating 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.

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 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.

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 FAQ’s at

“Fair Use”

Under section 107 of the 1976 Copyright Act is a list of circumstances under which reproduction of a piece of copyright may be considered fair. They are: comments, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, criticism and research. In order to determine whether or not use of a particular work is fair, the following four factors will help make that determination:

  • Purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • The nature of the copyrighted work;
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole;
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work.

Adler Graduate School Penalties for Student Copyright Infringement:

If there is a documented and confirmed case of copyright infringement, sanctions may include penalties up to and including expulsion. A first offense will include a written warning; a subsequent offense will result in expulsion.