The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) regulates the reproduction, distribution, performance, public display, and creation of derivative works of all copyrighted material. Copyrighted material may be print, digital, audio, or visual. Copyright owners are granted exclusive reproduction and distribution rights to their works under section 107 of the copyright law.
Reproduction “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research” without the explicit permission of the copyright owner may be deemed copyright infringement. In the digital world, this includes downloading and uploading files of copyrighted works or even portions of these works.
Penalties for copyright infringement include both civil and criminal penalties. Civil penalties for anyone found liable for copyright infringement may be actual damages or “statutory damages” which range from $750-$30,000 per work infringed. If the copyright infringement is found to be willful infringement, civil infringement penalties can range up to $150,000 per infringed work. Additionally court costs and attorney fees can be assessed above the civil penalty limits.
Criminal penalties for willful copyright infringement may result in up to five years imprisonment and additional fines up to $250,000 per offense.
For additional information, go to http://www.copyright.gov/ .