Article 1, Section 8, of the United States Constitution states, The Congress shall have Power … To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. This is the basis for copyright law and provides some of the underpinnings to allow Lehigh University to work toward its mission: To advance learning through the integration of teaching, research, and service to others. As such, Lehigh University endeavors to not only comply with copyright law, but also to educate its community about copyright law.

Title 17 of the United States Code states that copyright protection exists in any original work of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression. Works of authorship include literary works, musical works (including any accompanying words), dramatic works (including any accompanying music), pantomimes and choreographic works, pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works, motion pictures and other audiovisual works, sound recordings, and architectural works. With limited exceptions, known as Fair Use (see 17 USC 107 and 108), copyright protection provides exclusive rights to the owner of the copyrighted work .

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 copy, distribute, perform, or display 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 Consequences of Misuse

In addition to being in violation of U.S. law, copyright infringement is also in violation of University policy. Individuals who infringe copyrighted materials on Lehigh University computers or networks are subject to disciplinary action as specified within the Lehigh University document entitled Policies on the Use of Computer Systems and Facilities. At a minimum, upon receipt of a copyright infringement notification access to the infringing materials will be blocked until such time as the situation has been resolved as per Procedures for Handling Copyright Infringement Notifications.

Legal Alternatives

For legal alternatives to illegal downloading, please see

Notification of Copyright Infringement

To report suspected electronic copyright infringement originating at Lehigh University, please notify the designated agent as per the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Public Law 105-304:

Security and Information Policy Officer
Lehigh University
Library and Technology Services

U.S. Mail:
8B East Packer Avenue
Bethlehem, PA 18015-3146

University Plan to Address Copyright Infringement

In order to comply with federal laws and regulations such as the Higher Education Opportunity Act, Lehigh employs technology-based deterrents including: bandwidth monitoring to identify the largest bandwidth users, log correlation techniques to match the reported IP address to a likely user, and vigorous enforcement of infringement notifications. Library and Technology Services and the Office of the Dean of Students also educate the Lehigh community regarding copyright laws through web-based educational materials and through an annual letter to the Lehigh community. Anyone identified as a likely infringer is provided with additional educational resources pertaining to copyright infringement, will have access to the infringing materials blocked and must remove any infringing materials, and must agree to abide by copyright law and University policy in the future before network access will be restored. Any repeat offenders will not only repeat this process, but will remain blocked until such time as additional sanctions and educational materials are provided through the Office of the Dean of Students.

Lehigh University periodically reviews the effectiveness of its plan to combat copyright infringement through discussions between the Security and Information Policy Officer (who also functions as Lehigh's DMCA agent), the General Counsel's Office, and the Office of the Dean of Students. Changes to the plan will be made to address any identified issues based upon number of infringement notifications received and number of repeat offenders. Lehigh University distributes information on legal alternatives through the annual letter to students and via the listing on this page.

For more information on copyright issues at Lehigh, please the Copyright Frequently Asked Questions.