Copyright and File Sharing

Basic information

Calvin University recognizes and supports United States copyright laws. Therefore the university does not support the illegal distribution of copyrighted material, and strongly discourages students from engaging in this activity. Sharing copyrighted material through peer-to-peer file sharing services, or other means is a violation of Calvin policy and Federal law. By sharing copyrighted material, students could be put under disciplinary action or receive legal penalties.

I. Policy

University policy on copyright infringement: See section titled Respect of One Another's Property in the Policy on Responsible Use of Technology.

Violations of copyright may warrant referral to the Senior Judicial Advisor or Judicial Advisor as defined in the Student Handbook: Calvin University Disciplinary Process.

II. Federal Penalties

Summary of Calvin 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 and 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, especially their FAQ's at

III. Technology-based Deterrents

Calvin University uses bandwidth shaping technologies to limit bandwidth abusers and deter students from downloading copyrighted materials.

Calvin University accepts and responds to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices.

IV. Other Resources



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