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Northwest Missouri State University

Northwest and Copyright

General Information | Infringement | Copyright & DMCA | Penalties | Copyright & USCO | Reporting Violations

General Information

Northwest provides many programs and information for faculty, staff and student usage, which have been obtained and purchased under exclusive contracts or special licenses. 

The contracts and licensing agreements state that they may not be copied, cross-assembled or reverse-compiled. Consequently, the user is responsible for determining whether or not various programs and information are under contract and license and are therefore, restricted. 

Determining copyright is extremely important before trying to copy, cross-assemble or reserve-compile data in its entirety or in part.

If it is unclear whether or not you have permission to copy, distribute or record in a different medium the  material in question, assume that you do not have permission to do so.  

The Information Technology department will assist with any questions regarding software usage and licensing issues.

Copyright Infringement

While Northwest does not actively search for instances of copyright infringement, we do respond to complaints of inappropriate use or illegal activity taking place on the network by taking the appropriate legal and disciplinary action.

Northwest regularly receives complaints from copyright holders about the unauthorized use of their works on the Northwest network. Copyright complaints come directly from music and motion picture associations, copyright holders and law firms, which have employees whose sole job is to search for people committing copyright infringement of copyrighted material on networks, servers and desktop computers.

You should be aware that many federal lawsuits have been filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)against individual college students over the years. Lawsuits included ones against college students in New York, New Jersey and Michigan

The RIAA alleged that these college students stored thousands of songs and made them available to anyone with access to their university’s high-speed networks. The RIAA sought maximum damages in the amount of $150,000 per song from these college students. In light of such RIAA lawsuits, Northwest and Information Technology wants its students, staff and faculty to be aware of the importance of adhering to copyright law to avoid civil and criminal charges and penalties, as well as, academic disciplinary action.

Copyright and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) now extends federal copyright law to protect artistic works such as music from electronic unauthorized reproduction or distribution.

You could be in violation of the DMCA by doing the following:

  • Making an MP3 copy of a song and making it available on the internet (via file-sharing network) to others.
  • Joining a file-sharing network and downloading unauthorized copies of any copyrighted material from the computers of other network members.
    • Past programs that have been used were Kazaa, Imesh, Frostwire, Limewire, BitTorrent and Morpheus.
  • Receiving email with copyrighted material and passing it on to others.
  • Transferring copyrighted material using an instant messaging service.
  • Making copies of music you have downloaded using your computer’s CD writer.

To avoid being served with a DMCA violation, you should remove all copyrighted material that you do not own from your computer and cease transferring all copyrighted material.

For more detailed information on the DMCA, see the URL: 

For more information on how the DMCA applies to you, see the following web page at: is a good resource if you have questions about downloading and copying music legally. The web site also gives you a list of legal resources for downloading music.

Another good source for a list of legal online resources is the EDUCAUSE URL:

Summary of Copyright Penalties

Copyright infringement is taken seriously by Northwest Missouri State University and appropriate legal and academic disciplinary action will be taken whenever a campus community member knowingly violates copyright laws. Copyright infringement penalties include both civil and criminal penalties.

Typically, a person found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay actual damages or what is called “statutory damages” of not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per infringed work.

Additionally, if it is ruled that “willful copyright infringement” occurred the court may award up to $150,000 per infringed work. The court can also at its discretion assess court costs and attorney fees.

Willful copyright infringement is subject to criminal penalties. Criminal copyright infringement is subject to fines of up to $250,000 per infringed work and imprisonment of not more than 10 years.

Besides civil and criminal penalties, members of the campus community found guilty of using the Northwest network and campus technology resources to violate of copyright laws are subject to campus disciplinary action. Students may also be subject to academic dishonesty charges for using the University “computer resources unethically.”

Copyright and the United States Copyright Office

According to the United States Copyright Office (USCO) “Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of ‘original works of authorship,’ including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works.” To learn more about copyright, see Copyright Basics at the URL:

The mission of the USCO is to “promote creativity by administering and sustaining an effective national copyright system.” For further information on copyright infringement see the United States Copyright Office URL:

See Title 17 of the US Legal Code on copyright, specifically sections 504-505, pp. 160-163 at the URL:

Additionally, see, Title 18, US Legal Code, Criminal Infringement of Copyright, 2319. For a good summary of Title 18, 2319, see Cornell Law School’s URL:

Reporting Copyright Violations

Cases of copyright infringement at Northwest Missouri State University where the Northwest network and its technology resources were used to commit the copyright violation should be reported to the Vice President of Information Technology or his designee who may (at his or her discretion) consult with appropriate university officials such as Human Resources, Student Affairs, the Provost and all other stakeholders before reporting the matter to either the Student Conduct and Development Coordinator or University Police. 

To report suspected cases of copyright infringement where the campus network and its technology resources were used inappropriately or illegally, contact the Information Technology—Client Computing Help Desk at 660.562.1634 or by email at