Copyright Infringement (Summary/Potential Consequences)

Status: Published
Version: 1.0.0
Effective Date: November 20, 2018


As part of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, UA Little Rock and IT Services are required to provide information pertaining to copyright infringement as a way to educate users and combat against the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material. This information is important for students, faculty, and staff to understand.


It is a violation of the university’s Information Technology Acceptable Use Policy for any user to commit copyright infringement using university resources, including any campus or residence hall networks. Violations may result in disciplinary sanctions as well as the suspension or revocation of the user’s access to university resources or networks.


Note: The information below is a summary, for the full policy please visit review the full Patent and Copyright Policy.

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). Copyright owners have exclusive rights of reproduction, adaptation, publication, performance, and display. Infringement includes the reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work in the following ways:

  • Downloading, uploading, sharing, or posting parts of a copyrighted work without authority
  • Using copyrighted content on a peer-to-peer network

Potential Consequences

Downloading or uploading copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement. Willful copyright infringement can result in criminal penalties including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

Copyright infringement can also result in civil judgments. Anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement can be ordered to pay damages, with fines ranging from $750 to $30,000 per work infringed. For “willful” infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can also assess costs and attorneys’ fees (Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505).

There are many alternatives to sharing and downloading content which avoid civil and criminal risk. Users are encouraged to find legal alternatives to ensure compliance with university policies and respect the work of copyright owners.