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Policy: XV.F.8

Issued: March 16, 1987

Owner: University Comptroller

Latest Revision:



All copyright policies (XV.F.1-9) are considered by the University to be out-of-date and under revision. New policies on Copyright Compliance will be issued by the University Library in early 2009. For general guidance in the interim, consult the following resources: US Copyright Office: http://www.copyright.gov/ and http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.pdf The Association of Research Libraries: http://www.knowyourcopyrights.org/

1.0 Purpose

This policy describes infringement of a copyright, how to avoid it and possible consequences if a copyright is infringed.

2.0 Policy [Top]

University employees could be subject to lawsuits for violating copyright laws or for exceeding the "fair use" guidelines, even if the infringement is innocently committed.

To prevent or restrain infringement of a copyright, a court may grant an injunction on such terms as it may deem reasonable. The court may also impound copies or phonorecords claimed to be infringing, or as part of a final judgment, destroy all copies or phonorecords which are in violation of a copyright owner's exclusive rights. Infringers of copyrights will also be liable for the copyright owner's actual damages plus any additional profits of the infringer. When monetary damages are minimal, a copyright owner may elect "statutory" damages which can range from $250 to $10,000 or up to $50,000 if the infringement is willful. The court would determine a "just" amount. If the infringers sustain the burden of proof, and the court finds the infringers were not aware and had no reason to believe their acts constituted an infringement, the court may reduce the statutory damages to a sum of not less than $100. In addition, the court may, in its discretion, allow recovery of full costs against any party and award reasonable attorney's fees to the prevailing party.

Even if an infringement occurs, monetary damages should be minimal if an employee attempts to comply with the fair use guidelines. The fair use guidelines do not allow an employee to make enough reproductions to seriously affect the market sales of a copyrighted work. If a court decides an employee did infringe on a copyright, the court could issue an injunction to stop the reproducing, even if actual or statutory damages are not awarded.

The Copyright Act specifically exempts from statutory damages employees or agents of a nonprofit educational institution, library, or archives acting within the scope of their employment who believe or have reasonable grounds for believing their reproduction of a copyrighted work constituted a fair use. Complying with the guidelines set forth in these policy statements (XV.F.1-XV.F.9) should provide adequate grounds to support the fair use exemption.

For works published after 1977, employees should not rely on the absence of copyright notice in determining whether a work is protected. The law provides several ways for copyright owners to protect their rights even without the notice. Absence of a copyright notice on works published before 1978 generally means the work is in the public domain and, therefore, is not protected. Any person who can prove he/she innocently infringed on a copyright in reliance on the lack of a copyright notice should incur no liability for actual or statutory damages. The court may, however, recover the infringer's profits and may either stop the infringement or require the infringer pay a reasonable fee to continue reproducing. Since reliance on the lack of notice may be difficult to prove, employees should not assume that works published after 1977 without a notice are free from copyright restrictions.

The University has taken extensive measures to warn employees about copyright infringements, and the University may take disciplinary action against employees who violate copyright law. Each employee is deemed to know the law and employees who reproduce beyond the fair use guidelines do so at their own risk. In appropriate cases, a defense may be provided to employees who innocently infringe on copyrights, but employees should not depend on a defense or indemnification, if University guidelines are not followed.

3.0 Definitions [Top]

4.0 References [Top]

Policy XV.E.1, "Copyright Policy"
Policy XV.E.2, "Patent Policy"
Policy XV.F.1, "Copying of Copyrighted Materials: Introduction"
Policy XV.F.2, "Copying of Copyrighted Materials: Reproducing"
Policy XV.F.3, "Copying of Copyrighted Materials: Special Circumstances"
Policy XV.F.4, "Copying of Copyrighted Materials: Videotaping"
Policy XV.F.5, "Copying of Copyrighted Materials: Copying Works of Music"
Policy XV.F.6, "Copying of Copyrighted Materials: For Academic Purposes"
Policy XV.F.7, "Copying of Copyrighted Materials: Obtaining Permission"
Policy XV.F.9, "Copying of Copyrighted Materials: Licensed Computer Software"

5.0 Approvals and Revisions [Top]

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