Copyright Infringement

Emory has obligations to address digital copyright infringement occurring within the institution as both the network provider and an educational institution. As a network provider, Emory has a process in place to handle copyright infringement notifications involving computers within the Emory networks. As an educational institution, Emory informs its students about copyright law and the penalties for violations. Emory also takes technical enforcement steps to block the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing on campus resident hall networks and other campus network locations.

Obligations of Emory students, faculty and employees

Emory students, faculty and employees are expected to be good citizens in several regards, including respecting the laws of the nation, state and city. To this end, students, faculty and employees are required and expected to adhere to US copyright law, which restricts reproduction, distribution, and other uses of copyrighted materials. These restrictions include refraining from unauthorized reproduction, distribution, or use of copyrighted materials. Examples of unauthorized distribution include performing any of the following without explicit permission of the copyright holder:

  • Posting a digital copy of a copyrighted movie to a Torrent or other P2P application
  • Giving a friend a copy of copyrighted digital music files
  • Posting copyrighted text or images to a website

Emory students, faculty and employees should also not be unauthorized users of copyrighted materials. Examples of unauthorized usage include performing any of the following without explicit permission of the copyright holder:

  • Downloading a copyrighted album from a Torrent or other P2P application for personal use
  • Making a digital copy of a friend's copyrighted DVD or CD for personal use

When using copyrighted content for academic, research, or other institutional purposes, students, faculty and employees should abide by the allowances of the fair use provisions of copyright law or obtain the necessary permissions.

Emory's handling of infringement complaints

Copyright violation notices received by Emory are immediately processed and investigated. In compliance with applicable law, Emory will notify the alleged infringer and request removal of the allegedly infringing material. If the alleged infringer does not voluntarily comply or is unreachable, then network access to the computer hosting the material will be disconnected. The complaint is forwarded to the Office of Student Conduct for incidents involving students, to a Human Resources for incidents involving faculty or staff, and to the Provost's Office for incidents involving faculty. Disciplinary action taken on this notification is in accordance with the procedures and judgment of these individuals and groups. Copyright violations may also lead to suspension or termination of network privileges.

Penalties for copyright 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 (linked below).  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. 

Even in cases settled out of court, settlement payments regarding online sharing of copyrighted music are reported in the media to average $3,000-5,000.

As mentioned above, copyright infringement may lead to suspension or termination of network privileges and may be the subject of disciplinary action from the Office of Student Conduct, Human Resources or the Provost.


Following are some links that may be useful. They are provided for your benefit, but please understand that Emory may not agree with all the opinions, guidance, recommendations, and suggestions contained in all the websites listed below.

United States Copyright Office - Official website of the federal copyright office

Copyright Law of the United States - full text of US copyright law

Emory's Electronic Theses and Dissertations Repository page on intellectual property, including fair use guidance

Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office - a good resource for issues related to academic use of copyrighted materials

Stanford University Libraries Copyright and Fair Use - an extensive set of resources and links on the topic of copyright and fair use including tracking of on-going court cases

Copyright crash course - U Texas site covering your rights as a copyright owner and how to legally use content created by others, including fair use guidelines

Motion Picture Association of America's list of legal movie and TV download sites

Recording Industry Association of America's list of legal music download sites

Individuals wishing to obtain a printed copy of this statement may contact the IT Service Desk at 404-727-7777.