Copyright Infringement and Fair Use Guidelines

Offices Services / Handbooks & Policies / Copyright Infringement and Fair Use Guidelines
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What is Copyright Infringement?

The law of copyright indicates that copyright protection applies to works of authorship including but not limited to literary works, musical works (including any accompanying works), dramatic works (including any accompanying music), motion pictures and other audiovisual works and sound recordings. The owner of copyright has exclusive rights to, among other things, reproduce the copyrighted work and distribute copies of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer or ownership, or by rental, lease or lending.

Examples of copyright infringement:

  • Copying the contents of someone else’s webpage or use of video clips or sound recordings without permission would in many cases be infringement.
  • Unauthorized duplication, distribution or use of someone else’s intellectual property, including computer software is copyright infringement and is illegal and is subject to criminal and civil penalties.
  • Unauthorized duplication and distribution of sound recordings.(e.g. MP3 format)

What is Fair Use?

It is not an infringement of copyright if works used fall under the "fair use" exception of copyright law. Fair use extends to the reproduction of copyrighted material for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research. Factors used in determining if copyrighted material falls under the fair use exception includes, but are not limited to, whether the material is used for educational rather than commercial gain, the nature of the copyrighted work, how much of the entire work is used and the potential value of the copyrighted work.

Examples of fair use:

  • Quoting passages from a book in a report for a class assignment.
  • Linking to someone else’s webpage in a report for a class assignment.

What are the penalties for copyright infringement?

Anyone who violates the exclusive rights of a copyright owner is an infringer of the copyright. Legal action available to the owner of the copyright includes obtaining an injunction preventing future infringement activity as well as monetary compensation that may exceed $150,000.00.

Why does the University need to respond to and investigate claims of copyright infringement? How will the university respond to a claim of copyright infringement on the university network?

Rider University is considered a service provider under copyright law. As a service provider, it must designate an agent to receive notifications of claimed infringements and make the name, address, phone number and electronic mail address of the agent available through its service, including on its website, in a location accessible to the public and by providing the same to the Copyright Office. If a service provider acquires knowledge of infringement, it must act "expeditiously" to remove, or disable access to the material, taking reasonable steps to notify the alleged infringing party (subscriber) that access to the material has been removed or disabled.

The subscriber has the right to counter notify the service provider that the material was removed or disabled as a result of a mistake or misidentification of the alleged infringing material. This counter notification must be in writing to the designated agent of the service provider and include the subscriber’s physical or electronic signature, identification of the material that has been removed or made inaccessible, and the location at which the material appeared before it was removed. Further, the counter notification must contain the subscriber’s name, address and telephone number and a statement that the subscriber consents to the jurisdiction of the Federal District Court for the judicial district in which the address is location. The subscriber must also indicate a willingness to be served papers in a legal proceeding from the complaining party.

Upon receipt of the counter notification from the subscriber the service provider must promptly provide the complaining party with the counter notification. It must further inform the complaining party that it will replace the removed material or permit access to the same within 10 business days and then replace or make the material accessible not less than 10 nor more that 14 business days after receipt of the counter notification. However, if the complaining party notifies the agent that it is filing a court action seeking to restrain the subscriber from engaging in the infringing activity, the removal of or inaccessibility to the material must continue. The service provider may also be required, in the presence of a subpoena issued by the United States district court within its jurisdiction, to provide the identification of the alleged infringing party.

The service provider is obligated to inform its subscribers of a policy regarding the termination of access to its system or network for repeat offenders. This policy must not interfere with a copyright owners means of identifying and protecting copyrighted works on the service provider’s system and, at the same time, should not impose substantial costs or burdens upon either the service provider or its network.

In 2002, Congress passed the TEACH Act which, according to the American Library Association, “redefines the terms and conditions on which accredited, nonprofit educational institutions throughout the U.S. may use copyright protected materials in distance education-including on websites and by other digital means--without permission from the copyright owner and without payment of royalties.” (

While the TEACH Act explicitly allows a wide variety of works to be uploaded to Learning Management Systems "in an amount comparable to that which is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session,” there are two categories of works that are explicitly excluded:
The following materials may not be used:

  • Works that are marketed "primarily for performance or display as part of mediated instructional activities transmitted via digital networks"; and
  • Performances or displays given by means of copies "not lawfully made and acquired" under the U.S. Copyright Act, if the educational institution "knew or had reason to believe" that they were not lawfully made and acquired. (

For example, no media of any sort (print, audio, or video) should be uploaded from “pirated” copies of the material. Nor should anyone be scanning and uploading substantial portions of textbooks or other instructional materials that are intended for each student to purchase.

Who should you contact to report a claim of copyright infringement?

Contact the Copyright Infringement Complaint Coordinator,

E-mail: [email protected].


Office of Information Technologies: General Services Building, 609-219-3000. This office enforces electronic data, network and computing policies.

Office of Judicial Affairs: Student Center, Student Affairs Suite, x5792. This office handles complaints of alleged violations of the Campus Code of Conduct as described in The Source.

Office of Public Safety: Non-emergency telephone number is (609) 896-5029, emergency telephone number is (609) 896-5321. This office accepts reports of possible criminal or illegal activities and is open 24 hours. All serious or potentially dangerous incidents should be reported to Security immediately.

Software Publishers Association: This is an international organization of software companies and developers that pursues software piracy. They accept reports of ftp and bulletin board sites containing pirated software. You can also report if software you developed has been pirated.

Recording Industry Association of America: This is a private, not-for-profit corporation whose member companies produce, manufacture, and distribute approximately 90% of all legitimately recorded music in the US. You can get more information on their web site or you can report sound recording piracy by calling 1-800-BAD-BEAT or sending e-mail to [email protected].

Some tips on preparing the complaint or report:

  • Include a brief, concise description of the problem, and be sure to identify yourself.
  • Include copies of any communication that is relevant, including all header information.
  • Send only one message.
  • Do not assume that the incident was intentional or malicious. E-mail is easily misdirected due to typos.
  • Do not expect an immediate response. Some sites get lots of e-mail.