Copyright Infringement

With the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in October, 1998, Wheaton College has designated an agent to receive notice of unauthorized online use of copyrighted materials.

Unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject students to civil and criminal liabilities. 

A summary of the penalties for violation of federal copyright laws is provided below.

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 U.S. Copyright Office website >>

Wheaton College’s policies with respect to unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, including disciplinary actions that are taken against students who engage in illegal downloading or unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials using the school’s information technology system  are defined in the Terms and Conditions for Computer Accounts/Usage Acceptable Use Policy.

For the legal alternatives for downloading or otherwise acquiring copyrighted material please reference the Wheaton College Copyright Guide.

How to Notify us about a Copyright Infringement Claim

E-mail may be sent to:

Mail may be sent to:

Steve Oberg
Wheaton College Library
Wheaton College
510 Irving Avenue
Wheaton, Il 60187

Phone: 630.752.5852
Fax: 630.752.5855

The notice must include:

  • A physical or electronic signature of the person alleging the infringement.
  • Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to be infringed, or, if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works at that site.
  • Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing with information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material.
  • Information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number, and electronic mail address.
  • A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
  • A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner.


Full text of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)