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Copyright Laws

Summary of Civil 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 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 Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQ's at

All third-party software used by the College is proprietary to the College or third-party vendors and is protected by U.S. and foreign copyright, trade secret law and/or other intellectual property laws. Software proprietary to third parties used by the College is subject to the terms of the specific software license agreement entered into by the College. The College prohibits any unauthorized downloading, copying, reproduction, modification and reengineering of all software owned or licensed by the College. No user may, without proper authorization, download, copy or modify software that is loaded on College computers for use on any other computer with­out consulting with and obtaining written authorization from the Associate Vice President of Institutional Outreach. College computer users may not install software on the electronic network without prior written authorization from the Associate Vice President of Institutional Outreach.

Users are expected to adhere to established procedures and observe canons of etiquette for applicable electronic network resources.

Harassment via e-mail also is prohibited by this policy. E-mail harassment may take the form of deliberate electronic communication, regardless of its content, that is intentionally sent to disturb and annoy the intended recipient. The communication need not be threatening to be considered harassing. Users are absolutely forbidden from using College electronic network in any way that may be construed to violate the College’s harassment-free workplace policy. This prohibition includes but is not limited to transmitting, receiving, printing and/or displaying sexually explicit or offensive images, messages, cartoons, jokes, ethnic or religious slurs, racial epithets or any other state­ment or image that might be construed as harassment or disparagement on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation or any other status protected by law. Users are required to take all reasonable steps to avoid transmission and eliminate receipt from known sources of all potentially offensive material. Disciplinary actions in matters involving all forms of e-mail or other electronic network harassment will be referred to the Associate Vice President of Academic and Student Services, in accordance with established disciplinary measures.

Authorized persons using the College’s electronic network should have NO EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY in connection with the entry, creation, transmission, receipt or storage of data via the College’s electronic net­work. The College does not generally screen or monitor e-mail messages or individual computer or internet use. However, as with all other College property, the College reserves the right to investigate, monitor, review, audit, intercept and, when appropriate, disclose any and all information contained in College electronic network (including without limitation in databases, data file systems, data archives, College-issued personal computers, Web/Internet/Intranet sites and the content of e-mails saved on the electronic network). Although we encourage and in some cases mandate the use of passwords or security codes to protect the security and confidentiality of data on the College’s computer and electronic communications systems for the benefit of all users, their use is intended for the College’s protection, as well as that of our users. The College may override all passwords or security codes when deemed necessary.

In addition, an annual inspection of software resident on a PC may be made, with prior notification, to ensure compliance with the software licenses and these policies. If there is software resident on a PC for which the college does not have a license, the individual will be asked to produce original installation media (diskettes, CDs, etc.) in order to retain that software on the system.

The College has implemented, or may implement, software to control and report on usage of the Internet. These controls may cover, but are not limited to, general Internet usage including blocking the transmission/storage of material that may be of an illegal or unacceptable nature (as explained below) or blocking of access to specific Internet websites.

The College makes no warranties of any kind, whether expressed or implied, for the service it is providing. The College will not be responsible for any damages the user suffers. This includes loss of data resulting from delays, non-deliveries, missed-deliveries or service interruptions caused by its negligence or the users’ errors or omissions. Use of any information obtained via the Internet is at the user’s own risk. The College specifically denies any responsibility for the accuracy or quality of information obtained through the electronic network.


The use of Rend Lake College’s electronic network system, which includes the Internet, electronic mail and all other software and hardware provided by the College (all referred to as the “electronic network”), shall be con­sistent with the College’s goal of promoting educational excellence. The Learning Resource Center at Rend Lake College is attempting to provide a networked environment for students, faculty and staff conducive to academic endeavors. The College community intends to provide its members with the privileges, opportunities and pro­tections that promote the learning process. In order to achieve this goal, all members of the College community must be aware and respectful of the rights of others.

Student use of Rend Lake College’s electronic network is considered a privilege, not a right. Therefore, the use of the College’s electronic network must be: 1) for the purpose of education and/or education-related research and be consistent with the educational objectives of the College and/or 2) for legitimate business use related to business development and training activities sponsored by the College. Users are responsible for all transmis­sions originating from their accounts. Use of the College’s electronic network is subject to this policy, other applicable Rend Lake College policies and guidelines, and all local, state and federal laws.

A student’s unacceptable use of the College’s electronic network may result in the student’s loss of privilege for continued use of the electronic network. Furthermore, appropriate disciplinary action may be taken against the student and/or referral to appropriate legal authorities for unacceptable use of the College’s electronic network.

Some examples of unacceptable uses include, but are not limited to:

  • Using the electronic network for any illegal activity
  • Unauthorized accessing of resources or data
  • Unauthorized downloading of software
  • Downloading copyrighted or other proprietary materials for purposes other than fair use. (NOTE: THE DOWNLOADING OF MUSIC IS PROHIBITED FOR ALL PURPOSES). Fair use includes limited re­production of copyrighted materials for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research
  • Using the electronic network for private financial/commercial gain
  • Using the electronic network for commercial/private advertising
  • Using invasive software such as “worms,” “sniffers” and “viruses” destructive to computer systems
  • Sharing user accounts or using another student’s account
  • Posting, uploading, downloading, transmitting, distributing or engaging in any “file-sharing” of any data or files (including software, music, audio-visual clips, movies, etc.) unless such activity is consistent with all applicable licenses and approved in advance by the Vice President of Student Services
  • Introduction of any new service or software without prior written approval from the Information Tech­nology Department
  • Accessing, submitting, posting, publishing or displaying any defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, obscene, profane, sexually harassing, racially offensive or harassing or any other illegal material that is disruptive to the educational process
  • Using the electronic network to transmit junk mail, chain letters, or spam (the same or substantially similar messages sent to a large number of recipients for commercial or other purposes unrelated to the College) or pyramid schemes of any kind, or to download, play or execute games
  • Invading the privacy of any individuals, or leaking, placing, posting, transmitting, or otherwise disclos­ing private information relating to any individual College faculty, employees, contractors, or students
  • Leaking, placing, posting, transmitting or otherwise disclosing confidential, sensitive or proprietary College information
  • Using loopholes in computer security systems or knowledge of a special password to damage the elec­tronic network or other computer systems, obtain extra resources, take resources from another user, gain access to systems or use systems
  • Using the electronic network while access privileges are suspended or revoked
  • Posting material authored or created by another without his/her consent
  • Using the electronic network to misrepresent, obscure, suppress, or replace one’s identity or the origin of data or communications. For example, “spoofing” (i.e., constructing electronic communications to appear to be from someone else) is prohibited. Each user’s name, e-mail address, organizational affilia­tion, time and date of transmission, and related information included with electronic communications (including postings) must always reflect the true originator, time, date and place of origination, as well as the original message’s true content
  • Posting anonymous messages

No individual shall make use of the College’s electronic network in any manner, which infringes on the rights of others, including copyrights of the College or any third parties.