Copyright Policy

The University of South Carolina is committed to upholding the U.S. Copyright Law and through the Policy on Network Access and Acceptable Use, specifically prohibits violation of the U.S. Copyright Law.

The resources available on this site are intended to educate students, faculty, and staff about illegal use of copyrighted material.

  • University Statement on Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material
    By making use of computing resources, users consent to allow information to be divulged to authorized law enforcement or other relevant agencies, in accordance with law.

    Copyright, obscenity, libel, and other laws governing communication and publication apply to electronic media as well. Unauthorized copying or distribution of software or other copyright material is prohibited. Individual users are responsible and liable for such infringing activities.

  • Summary of 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

  • University Policies for Unauthorized Distribution and Downloading
    The University of South Carolina regularly receives copyright infringement takedown notices for users who have illegally shared copyrighted media files. USC works with law enforcement to protect copyrighted material.

    Click here for more information about Copyright Infringement Notifications

For more information on the responsibilities of network and computer users at USC, please refer to the "Student Guidelines for Responsible Computing."  Members of the USC community are expected to obey all federal, state, and local laws, as well as University policies and procedures. These guidelines apply to anyone whether using University-owned computers or are using personally-owned computers on the University's network while associated with the University.

For explicit policies related to computing and user conduct, which affect all users, whether student, faculty, or staff, refer to the Computing Policies web page.