Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Copyright Guidelines

For guidelines about copyright, fair use, and links to further resources.

Related VCSU Student Resources

The V530.01 Academic Integrity Policy for VCSU Students is located online and is also available in the Student Handbook.

Chat with a Librarian

Can't find what you're looking for? Chat with us:

Chat is currently unavailable. Please email the library @

Copyright Infringement vs. Plagiarism

In a higher education setting, it is not uncommon to be confused about the difference between “copyright infringement” and “plagiarism”. These are very different concepts with different types of penalties so it is important to understand the meaning and implication of these terms.

Copyright infringement is a violation of federal copyright law and could subject the infringing party to civil and/or criminal damages or penalties. It usually involves the copying, distributing, performing or making of a derivation of another work you do not own, without permission or without an applicable exception to copyright law. Proper citation of a work will not protect you against an infringement action.

Plagiarism is not a violation of the law. It is a violation of a practice or policy accepted within a literary or scholarly setting. Valley City State University has established Academic Integrity policies that students are expected to follow. Most commonly it refers to properly citing or acknowledging sources. The Valley City State University Academic Integrity Policy defines plagiarism as “the intentional or unintentional copying of language, structure, or ideas of another and attributing the work to one’s own efforts.” An act of plagiarism can result in academic disciplinary consequences such as a failing grade or even suspension.

More information about plagiarism and citing sources can be found in our online Citation Guide.

Peer To Peer (P2P) File Sharing

File sharing is the sharing of computer data in a network.  It allows a number of people to use the same data and may allow them to read it, view it, copy it, download it, modify it or print it.  In and of itself file sharing is not illegal.  However, using it for the sharing of copyright protected music, movies, video games, photographs or other works without permission could be a violation of copyright law.  Music, video game, and film producers as well as producers of other creative works take this issue very seriously and have pursued college students in court for significant damages related to illegal file sharing and downloading.  In addition to legal damages and penalties that can be imposed, illegal file sharing and downloading violates the NDUS Policy and could subject a student to disciplinary action as well.  

The North Dakota University System Computer & Network Usage Policy can be found at:


Be careful about the use of copyrighted materials in your e-portfolios. If you use copyrighted material owned by someone else in your e-portfolios (such as songs, photos, images, text etc.), determine if the use qualifies as a Fair Use before using the copyrighted material without first obtaining permission. The outcome of the Fair Use evaluation will probably change if you initially use the e-portfolio for only an academic purpose while at Valley City State University, but later use it for some other purpose after the e-portfolio is submitted for credit or after graduation. Do not assume that because Fair Use applied when the e-portfolio was submitted for academic credit, that fair use will also apply for other uses.