Skip to main content
Banner Image

Copyright Information: Home

Information on copyright issues for the Illinois Wesleyan University community.

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection given to the authors or creators of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and other intellectual works.  Copyright is a bundle of rights, which allow the author or creator exclusive rights, including the right to:

  • Distribute your work
  • Make copies of your work
  • Perform and publicly display your work
  • Make derivative works

How long does it last?


IWU Copyright Policies and Practices

University Policy: Illinois Wesleyan University expects individuals affiliated with the University to uphold copyright laws ensuring the protection of intellectual property, giving authors due credit, and demonstrating responsible citizenship.

Illinois Wesleyan University advocates that individuals creating content proactively review publisher right's agreements before signing and retain authority over the intellectual property.

Illinois Wesleyan University encourages individuals to be familiar with the application of the four factors comprising Fair Use

While Illinois Wesleyan University copyright policies and practices are as described here, final judgment rests with each individual. Support and help is available from the University Copyright Officer

Unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer sharing, may subject you to civil and criminal liabilities. The Copyright Act provides stiff penalties for infringing copyrighted works. Under appropriate circumstances, penalties can include monetary damages, all profits earned by the infringer from the unauthorized use of the copyrighted work and attorney's fees. A court can also order the destruction of all infringing copies.

Penalties for Violating Copyright

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


Contact me

Karen Schmidt
University Librarian & Professor
University Copyright Officer
117 Library
Website / Blog PageSkype Contact



Tuesday: 1:00-2:00

Wednesday: 10:00-11:00

Thursday: 3:00-5:00

Friday: 2:00-3:00

and by request, please e-mail me.

This service is maintained by The Ames Library. Please contact us with any problems or suggestions.