Austin Community College (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.

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

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.

Most, if not all, other course materials—course syllabi or outlines, course bibliographies or reading lists, lecture or other supplemental handouts, review notes or outlines that are handed out, tests or individual test questions, test answers, and other instructional materials provided to students by their professor or other instructors—are also copyright-protected materials. The content of materials does not belong to the student. The student enrolled in a course has only limited permission, a nonexclusive license, to use those materials, and that permission is limited to use strictly in conjunction with that student’s participation in the course in which the student is enrolled.

Following the intent of ACC’s Administrative Rule 3.2000.02, no instructional materials may be reproduced or disseminated by students except for the exclusive use of students enrolled in the course in which such materials have been provided. In particular, course materials may not be posted online without express written permission. Violations are subject to civil penalties or criminal prosecution under the federal Copyright Act of 1976, as amended. In addition, students who violate this rule regarding copyright infringement are subject to College disciplinary action. It is a condition of students’ enrollment in courses at Austin Community College (ACC) that they respect the copyrights of others and adhere to the Copyright Administrative Rule.

As outlined in Administrative Rule 3.2000.01, students retain copyright ownership rights to materials they create to satisfy course assignments or other course requirements (e.g., essays, photographs, audio-visual materials, computer programs, tests) using generally available College resources. ACC retains an unlimited license to use work created by students for educational purposes.

More information may be found in the following Guidelines:

Questions about copyright ownership may be directed to the ACC Copyright Officer, Courtney Mlinar