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Dominican University Copyright Policy: Home

Every member of the Dominican University community is responsible for his/her use of material in a course and to ensure it is in compliance with federal copyright law. University offices will not knowingly assist any faculty, staff, or student in creating material that can be reasonably anticipated to be in violation of copyright and outside the fair use guidelines outlined below.

The educational process involves research and creation of works, and Dominican University students, faculty, and staff are active members of this process. Dominican University faculty, staff, students, and administrators must also recognize, and abide by the U.S. Copyright law while teaching and researching. Any Dominican University affiliate that does not comply with the fair use standards of the U.S. Copyright law puts the University at risk and assumes liability for their actions. It is important that everyone who uses library materials, creates works, teaches, and places items on reserve or in the learning management system understands the U.S. Copyright law and fair use.

This overview is for reference only and is subject to any future changes in copyright law. See the resources provided at the end of this Policy if you are uncertain about whether using or copying material is permissible under the law, whether such use complies with the University’s procedures, or when and how to obtain proper authorization to use copyrighted material.

Definition of copyright:  The U.S. Copyright Office defines copyright as: a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States for “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, cartographic, choreographic, pantomimic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural and audiovisual creations.”  “Copyright” literally means the right to copy but has come to mean that body of exclusive rights granted by law to copyright owners for protection of their work. Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, title, principle, or discovery, though these may be protected by a patent. Similarly, names, titles, short phrases, slogans, familiar symbols, mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, coloring, and listings of contents or ingredients are not subject to copyright, though they may be protected by a trademark. For more information please consult:

Copyright symbol: ©

Exclusive Rights of the Copyright Holder

According to the U.S. Copyright Office the following are the exclusive rights of the copyright holder (section 106, title 17, U.S. Code):

  1. To reproduce the work;
  2. To prepare derivative works;
  3. To distribute copies of the work to the public by sale, rental, lease, or lending;
  4. In the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works; pantomimes; motion pictures; and other audiovisual works, to perform the work publicly;
  5. In the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works; pantomimes; and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and
  6. In the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more 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 see the website of the U.S. Copyright Office at

In addition to potential civil and criminal penalties, unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including (but not limited to) unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, constitutes a violation of University policy, and may result in disciplinary action by the University, up to and including termination/dismissal for employees and dismissal/expulsion for students.

For further information on university policies see the following: