Author Archives: Phil Doesschate

Penalties for Copyright Infringement

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, particularly its FAQ section at

A Message from Stony Brook’s Chief Information Security Officer

Over the past few months, we have received numerous complaints from owners of copyrighted material that members of our community are not being sufficiently diligent in protecting their rights to those materials. The complaints thus far have concerned software, movies, television shows, music recordings, and academic journals. We are obligated to ask you to read and follow University Policy P512: Duplication of Materials Protected by Copyright.

Specifically, you are not to use Stony Brook’s computer network to share copyrighted material without the express permission of the copyright owner. You should know that outside companies monitor file transfer activity (e.g. BitTorrent, IRC, Newsgroups) and that they are actively trying to sue for damages for copyright violations. The network traffic responsible for transferring copyrighted files over the Stony Brook network may be subject to monitoring and further investigation.

You should know that an extraordinary amount of malware is spread through peer-to-peer networks (e.g. BitTorrent, IRC, Newsgroups) which puts your computer at risk and may increase the risk to the community.

Finally, you are reminded to periodically change the password associated with your NetID, and to never share it with others because any copyright violation would then be attributed to you.

In closing, you should know that Stony Brook University as a community of scholars values the sharing of information, but also recognizes and respects intellectual property rights.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this important matter.

Philip Doesschate
Chief Information Security Officer
Division of Information Technology
Stony Brook University