Copyright at Babson

Detailed guide to answer all your questions about copyright issues, for students, faculty and staff.

What Copyright question do you want to answer?

What is Copyright?

Copyright protects the rights of the creators of original content once it has been fixed in a tangible form. Content may be published or unpublished. Copyright gives owners the exclusive right to reproduce, adapt, publish, perform, and/or display their work. It also gives them the right to authorize any of the preceding to another entity.

Copyright law limits the right of a user to copy, edit, or transmit electronically another's intellectual property without permission.  This includes written materials, images, sounds, music, and performances, even in an educational context.  In most cases the licenses for our electronic services restrict redistribution of electronic material, even for educational purposes.

College Policy and Protection of Copyrighted Materials

Downloading or distributing copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright owner is a violation of the College’s Computer Code of Ethics/ Acceptable Use of Campus Network and Computing Systems Policy (ITSC/about/policies). 

Violations of the Computer Code of Ethics/ Acceptable Use of Campus Network and Computing Systems may result in the suspension or termination of campus computer network privileges and other disciplinary actions.

The unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials, including peer-to-peer file sharing, may also subject you to civil and criminal penalties.

Summary of Civil & 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 Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQs

As faculty, when don't I have to worry about copyright?

Copyright is probably not an issue when dealing with:

  • Your own lecture notes
  • Your own course syllabi/reading lists
  • The problem sets you’ve developed for your courses
  • The tests you’ve created for your courses
  • Publications of the US Government
  • Published works for which copyright has expired or does not apply, i.e. works in the Public Domain