Responsible Copyright Standard


WPI, as an educational institution, abides by federal copyright legislation. Students and employees are expected to properly handle copyright information. It is not only expected, but federally required that these copyrights of intellectual and creative work be enforced both by managing how copyrighted materials are used and the methods by which they are distributed and protected.

WPI Copyright Compliance Policies are posted on the WPI Copyright Compliance website. Questions regarding these policies should be addressed to the WPI Compliance Officer.

Although overall matters of copyright are the responsibility of the WPI Compliance Officer, the Information Security Office is tasked with enforcement of copyright as it applies to the Acceptable Use Policy.

The purpose of this standard is to:


This standard covers all faculty, staff, and students who use and share copyrighted material with others via the WPI network or computing resources.


WPI Copyright Compliance Policies are posted on the WPI Copyright Compliance website. Questions regarding these policies should be addressed to the WPI Compliance Officer.


Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works.

Assume materials found on the Internet are copyrighted unless a disclaimer or waiver is expressly stated. Note that there does not have to be a statement that the material is copyrighted for it to be copyrighted; any original work created in recent years is automatically copyrighted according to U.S. law. The copyright holder has extensive rights. Before any display of the material, contact with copyright holder must be made and permission must be given by the copyright owner.

Failure to abide by these legal and contractual restrictions may result in civil or criminal prosecution beyond any disciplinary action taken by WPI.

Examples of common copyright violations:

Placing copyright attribution on the displayed material is not sufficient to enable its display; Contact must be made to that copyright owner to be assured that the display is acceptable prior to its release.

Fair Use

Educational institutions enjoy special exemptions from copyright protection, called Fair Use, whereby reasonable portions of copyrighted material may be distributed by instructors to students in a class. If copyrighted materials are to be placed on the web for a course, the materials must be restricted to participants in the course. The WPI Information Technology Division (IT) can offer assistance to accomplish this end. All class materials do not have to be protected in this way, but material is acceptably protected if the instructor places the information which is copyright protected in its own directory in the web and then uses a web page designed to restrict logins to a class. The fair use code is simple. For further information please refer to the Stanford University Copyright and Fair Use website.


The programs offered for use on the campus computers typically have licenses which restrict their use to the computer on which they are installed and are for educational purposes. The software is copyrighted. Although this is not an exhaustive list, licensing rules and copyright are likely to be violated by:

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Violations

When violations of copyright are reported from third-parties outside of WPI they are often referenced as “DMCA violations”. WPI is provided with a report specifying the copyrighted materials and how it was discovered. In these cases, the infringing WPI system will be disabled until resolution of the issue can occur. This is to comply with aspects of the DMCA Safe Harbor guidelines. Before such actions are taken, reasonable steps are taken to ensure a correct and accurate report has been filed.



First Offense: Faculty, staff, and students will be warned and this policy will be explained. Computers and resources that are mediums for the violations may be disabled until the owner has a discussion about the violation. This violation will be explained by a member of the Information Security Office.

Second Offense: Faculty, staff, and students will need to speak with a member of Information Security about the second violation. A student’s network access for their personal computers will be suspended from the point the second violation is discovered to one week after the violation is explained and a notice will be sent to the Student Affairs office. Other resources may also be suspended for a week if they were involved in the student’s transgressions.

Third/Serious Offense: Faculty, staff, and students will need to speak with a member of Information Security about the violation. Those students with repeat offenses or who willfully violates copyright with intent to distribute for any reason will be referred to the Dean of Students Office for resolution, which may include forwarding to the Campus Hearing Board (CHB). The student will have their network access for their personal computers suspended pending the resolution of the case. The CHB may adjudicate further based on the findings of the case. Other computing resources may be suspended if they were in involved in the student's transgressions.


Please email any concerns or comments to


In order to stay current with the changing policy environment, the Responsible Copyright Standard is reviewed yearly. Changes are made when necessary.

Revision History

August 19, 2008 - IT approved the standard.

December 8, 2008 - Grammatical changes.

August 10, 2009 - Update for Judicial review

Maintained by itweb
Last modified: Jun 04, 2010, 10:44 EDT
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