Digital Millennium Copyright Act & FAQ

DMCA stands for Digital Millenium Copyright Act. A summary is available at: http://www.copyright.gov/legislation/dmca.pdf. It is U.S. federal law that allows a holder of a copyright to inform an entity that it has violated the copyright and that the offending entity must take certain action. ("You're sharing the music I sell for money. Cut it out, now!")

When a copyright holder or their representative determines that a Tufts owned IP address is the source of a violation, they will send a complaint to Tufts University's DMCA Agent. Tufts has registered University Counsel, Marty Oppenheimer, with a specific DMCA-only email address which lands in a Tufts Tech Connect email inbox. All DMCA complaints are directed to University Counsel but they are processed by TTS Service Desk or by TTS Information Security. Everyone who processes DMCA complaints at Tufts does so on behalf of University Counsel.

How It Works

A company working on behalf of the copyright holder tries to download the copyrighted material in the same way that a random person might attempt to do so. When they are able to locate the copyrighted material on the internet, they record the IP address and the date/time where they located the copyrighted material. They consult the IP address ownership information, and they determine the entity responsible for the IP address in question. They locate the DMCA agent for that entity, and they send the notice including the IP address and the date/time of the violation. Usually they include information detailing the method of the file sharing as well as information about the copyrighted material that was located.

Types of DMCA Notices

Tufts receives two kinds of DMCA Violation Complaints on a regular basis. They are Takedown Notices and Settlement Letters. Two other kinds of DMCA-related communications are Preservation Requests, and Subpoenas. These last two are not routinely received.

  1. Takedown Notice : A takedown notice directs Tufts to remove content (such as movies or music) from the network, and from the offending computer.
    • The representative of the copyright holder sends the takedown notice to the registered DMCA agent responsible for the IP address that was illegally sharing the copyrighted material.
    • When Tufts receives a takedown notice we are to do the following.
      • Inform the copyright holder that the university has received their notification and is taking action. This is done through an automated response email system.
      • Locate the computer which was doing the sharing.
      • Remove the copyrighted content from the computer.
      • Remove the software that was sharing the content illegally.
      • Inform the user that they should not be sharing copyrighted content illegally.
  2. Settlement Letter : A settlement letter threatens further legal action if a violator does not make a payment to settle the issue with the complainant.
    • Although a settlement letter implies that a complaint is finished, a careful reading of the letter usually reveals that further legal action may still be pursued by the complainant. The copyright holder maintains their right to take legal action even if the settlement is paid.
    • Settlement letters are usually received from holders of copyrights for pornographic material that is socially unacceptably and extreme in nature. It is assumed that these copyright holders send settlement letters demanding payment because they believe that the offending person would prefer to pay a fee rather than let anyone know about the potentially offensive material that they had on their computer.
    • When Tufts receives a settlement letter we are to do the following:
      • Inform the copyright holder that the university has received their notification and is taking action. This is done through an automated response email system.
      • Locate the computer which was doing the sharing
      • Inform the user of the copyright violation and give them the settlement letter
      • A settlement letter, unlike a takedown notice, does not require the university to remove the copyrighted content from the user's computer.

DMCA FAQ

  1. How can sharing music get me in trouble?
    Filesharing of music, movies, and other media which you do not own the copyright of can put you at risk for loss of network connectivity, disciplinary action through the Dean of Students office or worse, you may find yourself named in a takedown notice or settlement letter by a copyright holder. Average out of court settlements for settlement letters are between $3,000 and $5,000 nationwide.

  2. How does Tufts find out about my filesharing? Do you monitor what I'm doing on the Internet?
    Nearly every day, Tufts receives a number of "takedown notices". These are issued by the copyright holder or their agents. These notices require that we disable internet access to the offending file sharer and remove the offending file. Tufts Technology Service (TTS) does not actively monitor your internet traffic for content. The only time attention may be drawn to your machine would be if you are passing large amounts of data out of the network, your computer is reported to us as launching malicious activity, or if your machine is reportedly serving out copyrighted material. In all of these cases, we only confirm the information given to us is correct by matching your machine to logs which are created automatically. You will then be restricted from the network and instructed what to do in order to be reinstated.
  3. What happens if I'm caught filesharing?
    The first time an offense is reported, your machine will be restricted from using the Tufts network. Your web browser will be redirected to a page instructing you to call the Customer Support Center for more information. The Dean of Students (for the appropriate school) will be notified of your offense. Please refer to your student handbook for more information about disciplinary matters regarding filesharing. You will be instructed to go to a website from a machine in the public labs where you will need to watch a short video about filesharing, you will be supplied with links to Tufts' policy regarding copyright and highlighting important information you should know about copyright and DMCA. Once you've completed the video and slideshow you will be directed to an online quiz. The quiz contains 10 questions from the video and slideshow. You must answer 8 out of 10 questions correctly to pass. Once you've completed and passed the quiz, your internet connectivity will be restored within 1 business day.

    The second time your machine is reported to be filesharing your connection will be restricted. TTS will lodge a formal written complaint with the Dean of Students' office. This offense carries a penalty of disciplinary probation level 1 and loss of network connectivity from your personal machines for one semester.

    The third time your machine is reported to be filesharing, your connection will be restricted and will not be reinstated. A formal complaint to the Dean of Students will once again be issued. This offense carries a penalty of disciplinary probation level 2 and permanent loss of network access from any personally owned machines.
    For more information about judicial proceedings relating to copyright infringement, please consult the Academic Integrity Handbook or the Student Affairs website.

  4. What if I didn't know I was sharing files?
    As a user of the Tufts data network, you are responsible for all traffic to and from computers registered in your name. If you allow a visitor or friend to use your computer and they install and use filesharing programs and an infringement is reported, you are still responsible and accountable for the violation. A good rule of thumb here is to never allow others to use your computer or prohibit guests from installing anything on the machine. If you are not sure what is running on your computer or have reason to believe that your machine may be sharing files and need help please contact the Customer Support Center at 617-627-4865 or visit our walk-in center in the Arena Computing Annex behind Pearson Laboratory. One of our Student Computing Consultants would be happy to take a look at it for you!