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Copyright Policy

Recognizing the balance between fostering creativity and protecting ownership, Villanova University expects and requires all Villanova community members to comply with applicable copyright laws and this policy.

Copyright Act

The Copyright Act is a federal law that provides protection in the United States for creative works (termed “original works of authorship”) in the form of copyright.  Copyright infringement, which is a violation of the Copyright Act, generally occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed or made into a derivative work without the copyright owner’s permission. 

Copyright General Subject Matter

Copyright protection arises in original works of authorship that are “fixed in any tangible medium of expression” (e.g., written or typed on paper, stored in a computer, recorded in an audio or video format, etc.). Works of authorship include the following categories: (1) literary works; (2) musical works, including any accompanying words; (3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music; (4) pantomimes and choreographic works; (5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; (6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works; (7) sound recordings; and (8) architectural works.

Discipline and Penalties

Copyright infringement is a violation of law that carries substantial penalties for the infringer.   The general minimum statutory penalty is $750 per act of infringement.  Infringement need not even be willful, but penalties for willful infringement are more severe at up to $150,000 per act of infringement.  Criminal liability and even prison sentences of up to 5 years may be imposed on first time offenders who willfully infringe a copyright “for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain.”  In addition to being illegal, copyright infringement is a violation of University policy and can result in the imposition of University discipline up to and including dismissal for faculty and staff and expulsion for students. 

Educational Materials Regarding Copyright

The old adage “ignorance of the law is no excuse” is particularly apt in the area of copyright.  Villanova University Students, staff and faculty are expected to have a basic understanding of copyright law in order to ensure compliance with the law and this policy. See the links on the side of this page for Educational Materials that cover important topics including:

  1. Copyright General Subject Matter;
  2. Infringement, Discipline and Penalties;
  3. Compilations And Derivative Works;
  4. Exclusive Rights Of The Copyright Holder;
  5. Copyright And Plagiarism;
  6. Public Domain;
  7. Fair Use Exception;
  8. Exceptions For Libraries;
  9. Exceptions For Nonprofit Educational Institutions;
  10. Persons With Disabilities;
  11. Distribution Of Copyrighted Materials;
  12. Coursepacks;
  13. Graphic Services;
  14. Distance Learning And The TEACH Act;
  15. Face-to-Face Teaching;
  16. Instructor Responsibilities;
  17. Obtaining Permission To Use Copyrighted Works;
  18. Frequently Asked Questions; and
  19. Other Resources.

Villanova University Resources

Students with questions about copyright should consult their instructors, department chairs or UNIT.  Faculty with questions about copyright should consult their department chairs, other administrators or UNIT.  Administrators with questions about copyright should consult UNIT or the Office of Vice President and General Counsel.