Austin Community College District (ACC) has an expectation of respect for intellectual property and requires ACC faculty, staff and students to comply with federal law regarding the use of copyright-protected materials. Copyright infringement is defined as exercising exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner, without permission or legal authority, under Section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute copyrighted materials, or downloading/uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority.

ACC complies with the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) in distributing the following information according to this federal mandate:

According to Administrative Rule (AR) 3.1800.01, ACC network users must abide by the Acceptable Use of Information Resources policy. More specifically, users agree not to use College resources for unauthorized duplication, use, or distribution of copyrighted materials, including music and video files. Moreover, such activity is illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act  (DMCA) and exposes users to serious civil and criminal penalties. The DMCA is a federal law that criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, and services intended to circumvent copyright protections. In addition, the DMCA heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet.

Students are subject to federal, state, and local laws, and violations of those laws may also constitute violations of the Academic Integrity and Disciplinary Process in the Student Standards of Conduct and Disciplinary Process
(AR 6.1202.01). In such instances, the College may proceed with disciplinary measures independent of any legal proceeding that involves the same violation. The College may also impose sanctions independently of legal authorities, even if the legal proceedings are not yet resolved, or are resolved in the student’s favor.

Unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject students to civil and criminal liabilities. Examples include copying movies, music using peer-to-peer file-sharing technology.

Penalties for copyright infringement may include college disciplinary action, civil and criminal liability. The law requires a civil plaintiff to seek statutory damages of $150,000 for each act of willful infringement. Criminal penalties for a first offense may be as high as three years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Additionally, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act amendments to the U.S. Copyright Act any person who circumvents a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected by copyright, such as by descrambling a scrambled work, decrypting an encrypted work or otherwise avoiding, bypassing, removing, deactivating or impairing a technological measure for controlling access to a work protected by copyright without the authority of the copyright owner willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain may be subject to fines of up to $500,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both, for the first offense, and fines of up to $1,000,000 or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, for any subsequent offense.

EDUCAUSE has compiled references sources of legal alternatives for downloading media content. View more information at EDUCAUSE: Legal Sources of Online Content.

It is a violation of copyright law to distribute a copyrighted work without the content owner’s permission, even if the work was legally purchased. Users are responsible for any violation that occurs using network devices registered to your ACCeID regardless of who downloaded it, or how it got there.

Questions about copyright may be emailed to ACC’s Copyright Officer, Courtney Mlinar, at