The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), is a copyright law passed in 1998 by the United States Congress. A common misconception is that a violation occurs due to illegally downloading games, music or movies. A DMCA violation is almost always caused by your computer files being accessible by anyone from the Internet. In that sense, you are acting as a distributor for copyrighted material. The recording industry will scan the university’s network to see if a computer is accessible from the Internet, and if so will scan the computer’s folders that are accessible to see if they contain any of their copyrighted material. If copyrighted material is accessible from that computer, a notice is sent to the university indicating the date, time, file name, file sharing program used, and IP address that was accessed. It is important to note, ANYONE on the Internet can access your computer’s folder(s) if they are configured as an open file share. File sharing programs make changes to your computer settings to permit this open access. This is why file sharing is a dangerous practice and can lead to identity theft. Often file sharing programs will also contain malware that may infect your system or give greater access to a specific person for illegal purposes. 

Two types of DMCA notices; a “take down” notice, or a “preservation of records” notice. 

  • A “take down” notice is a legal request to the university to remove the offending system from the network and not permit access until the offending system will no longer act as a distributer of copyrighted material. University IT staff use authentication logs to identify the owner of the computer that caused the offense and block the system’s network access. No information about the computer user is provided to the agency that notified the university of the offense in the case of a “take down” notice. There is no release of personal information by Housing Technology Services. 

  • In recent years, some “take down” notices have also included a “settlement request” and threatens further legal action. In such cases, residents are directed to Student Legal Services in the Lory Student Center for legal counsel and to potentially have them act as an intermediary to maintain anonymity of the user. We STRONGLY recommend talking with Student Legal Services in such cases.
      • A notice for “preservation of records” is a legal notice to preserve log files and records that will provide the identity of the user associated with the offense. This notice is sent when an agency intends to sue the individual responsible for distributing copyrighted material and is a legal step taken in advance of a court issued subpoena to the university. The CSU Legal office is the only one who will provide information about a user in response to a subpoena. User information may be provided by Housing Technology Services to the CSU Legal office, but is NEVER directly released to any external agency.