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Copyright, Fair Use, & Plagiarism Resources

Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of 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. 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 especially their FAQs at

Peer-to-Peer Programs (P2P)

Besides concerns about following federal copyright laws for course-based assignments, you should be aware that using the College’s technology to share music and movies in digital format over the Internet using Peer-to-Peer Programs (P2P) in violation of copyright laws also might subject you to potential College sanctions and/or legal actions. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) specifies procedures that RACC must follow when notified that an individual using our network is violating copyright laws. If the copyright holder contacts RACC about a violation, if we are able to trace the network address for the alleged time of violation, we notify the user of that network address, and require removal of the offending material from the computer. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is known to send pre-litigation settlement letters to Internet service providers (including colleges) to forward to students, suggesting payment of hundreds of dollars per song allegedly acquired illegally via the internet, instead of facing a possible lawsuit. Typically, if copyright infringement claims are settled out-of-court, the costs can be several thousand dollars per song, totaling tens of thousands of dollars per lawsuit.

RACC Policies Concerning Appropriate Use of Copyrighted Materials & Technology:

Sources For Legal Downloading:

Other Useful Internet Links:

Additional Services for Distance Learning and Dual Enrollment Students

You are entitled to the same extensive library services as described above whether or not you are able to visit the campus.  Contact Patricia Nouhra, Distance Learning Librarian, if you cannot come to campus to:

Additional Information for Parents & Guardians of Dual Enrollment Students

You are welcome to visit The Yocum Library of Reading Area Community College.
Many of our library resources may be used by the public.  The Yocum Library uses the same library card as the Berks County public libraries. 

Información adicional para los padres y representantes de los estudiantes del programa de Dual Enrollment

Los invitamos a que visiten The Yocum Library de Reading Area Community College. Muchos de nuestros recursos bibliotecarios se hallan a la disponibilidad del público. The Yocum Library usa la misma tarjeta bibliotecaria utilizada por las bibliotecas públicas del Condado de Berks.