Copyright & Fair Use Policies

VIU, its students, faculty, and employees must comply with the provisions of the United States Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). Copyright is the right of the creator of a work of authorship to control the use of that work by others. Copyrighted work may not be reproduced distributed, performed, or adapted by others without the copyright owner’s permission. Unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject them to civil and criminal liabilities. Works protected by copyright include, but are not limited to: literary, musical, and pictorial works; sound recordings, motion pictures, and other audiovisual works; and computer software.

VIU employees shall use computer software only in accordance with the terms of the VIU Computer Software Policy and the licensing agreement for the software. The University does not condone or support the use of any unauthorized copies of software. All software used by University employees to perform their responsibilities shall be purchased through appropriate procedures.

Violation of copyright law may subject the guilty party to severe 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.

There are some exceptions in United States copyright law such as the fair use doctrine. The fair use doctrine allows limited use of copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright owner for several purposes, including teaching and scholarship. It is the responsibility of each student, faculty, and staff to inform oneself about what is and what is not permissible use of copyrighted material. Copyright and fair use guidelines for students, faculty, and staff can be found on the VIU Library website and are posted in the VIU Library as well as at all photocopy machines at VIU. For additional assistance with copyright and fair use issues, please consult the VIU Librarian.

Violations of VIU’s copyright and fair use policies will be dealt with in the same manner as violations of other university policies and may result in disciplinary review.  In such a review, the full range of disciplinary sanctions available, including loss of computer use privileges, dismissal from the University, and legal action.