Copyright Information

The Constitution of the United States provides copyright protection so that creators of original intellectual work in any medium can protect their work and receive adequate compensation for their effort. The author's rights begin from the moment of creation and the work does not have to be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office or have a copyright notice to be protected.

Fair use is the copying of some portion of a copyrighted work for limited and transformative purposes. Fair use is essential for education, research, and scholarship.

MidAmerica Nazerene University is committed to respecting the ownership of all intellectual property governed copyright laws, and to promoting the responsible fair use of the intellectual property of others. As a Christian university dedicated to developing and inspiring servant leaders, MidAmerica Nazarene University is committed to providing guidance to faculty, students and staff who wish to use copyrighted material in education and research.

Learn More About Copyright and Fair Use

Library faculty have created a useful guide to copyright and fair use, which can be found at


There are numerous online resources relating to this serious topic. Purdue OWL (the Purdue Online Writing Lab) is a particularly useful resource.

Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violating 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 website of the U.S. Copyright Office at: