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Copyright: Infringement &

Reporting Copyright Infringement

If you believe someone has infringed your copyright, the first step is to register your work. Although not required for copyright coverage, registration is required before filing a law suit and can affect the damages awarded in a successful suit.

Seek legal help:

  • the local or state bar association can recommend a copyright or intellectual property attorney
  • law schools, industry organizations, and volunteer organizations such as Lawyers for the Creative Arts may offer assistance
  • the FBI investigates cases of criminal copyright violation. The Cyber Division investigates crimes involving digital and online works; the Financial Institution Fraud Unit investigates all other intellectual property crimes.
  • The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) of the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice prosecutes intellectual property crimes.
  • Most internet service providers have a designated agent to handle reports of infringement.

For more details, see Stopping Copyright Infringement.

Report claims of infringement on MU systems to our designated agent.


Penalties of Infringement

Under U.S. law:

Penalties for civil copyright infringement may include either actual damages or statutory damages from $750 to $30,000 per work infringed. "Willful" infringement may carry a penalty of up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can also assess costs and attorneys' fees.

Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 for each offense.

For more detail, see Chapter 5 of the Copyright Law and the U.S. Attorneys' Manual.


At MU:

"Violation of the Acceptable Use Policy may result in a denial of access to University information technology resources, and other appropriate disciplinary actions."

The Department of IT is MU's designated agent for handling complaints under the DMCA. If they receive a complaint of possible infringement, they must disable or block access to the copyrighted materials and contact the possible infringer. See their policy for addressing these issues.

Note that peer-to-peer file sharing is prohibited and legal alternatives are recommended.