Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of any material that is covered by copyright law. Copyright law is very specific on what is copyrightable and protected by federal law.

In the United States, copyright is automatic and all you need to do is meet two requirements:
    • Your work must be an original work of authorship
    • Your work has to be fixed in a tangible form (such as paper, a digital document, sound file, video file, software, etc . . . )

A person who owns a copyright has five rights guaranteed by copyright law that apply to their work:
    1. The right to allow reproduction
    2. The right to allow distribution
    3. The right to allow public performance
    4. The right to allow public display
    5. The right to allow derivative works

Copyright infringement occurs most often by violating the first two rights listed above:  the reproduction and distribution of a work without permission.  Infringements almost always occur with illegal sound, video, or software file sharing through peer-to-peer Web sites such as BitTorrentuTorrent or Frostwire.

File Sharing

File sharing without permission or licensing to share is stealing. If caught, the infringer can pay thousands of dollars to the rights owner for each instance of illegal copying and distribution. Copyright infringement cases are made even more expensive when lawyer fees are included.  If a copyright infringement case is lost by being found guilty, the copyright law mandates that the infringer pay the lawyer’s fees of the owner of the sound, video or software file.

Provided by the Ball State University Libraries’ Copyright and Intellectual Property Office. For additional information please visit the Copyright and Intellectual Property Office’s Web site.