[unisog] bogus (and real) DMCA notices
Rita Seplowitz Saltz
rita at Princeton.EDU
Fri Nov 10 13:09:19 GMT 2006
I am not an attorney, but have had excellent advice and support from
our university Office of General Counsel, and encourage those with
DMCA concerns to contact their schools' counsel..
Having said that, I'll note that Princeton's registering under the
Digital Millennium Copyright Act seems to me to have achieved two
First, it gives the University certain protections from liability
for infringement by its network customers (our faculty, students,
staff, contractors, etc.).
Second, it tells the University that we need not monitor for
infringement. This seems advantageous in avoiding liability. In
the more general IT context, the University states it is a carrier
of information and, except for official University publications, not
a publisher of the information. A carrier normally is not held
responsible for content.
This does not excuse the University from taking appropriate action if
an alleged infringement (or any other violation of law) is brought to
Our practice here, if a DMCA notice alleges that a valid
Princeton.EDU domain IP address is infringing, is to notify the
person or people responsible for the implicated host regarding the
alleged infringement, copying an appropriate disciplinary authority.
Our e-mail appends the actual DMCA notice sent by the rights-holder
or agent, and asks the recipient to explain if s/he believes the
allegation to be in error.
The notice also indicates the action expected of the recipient if the
infringement allegation is not in error.
This is pretty simple and straightforward, allows the "accused" to
respond to the allegation if s/he finds it false, or to take the
necessary action if the allegation has substance. It also permits
the University to comply with the DMCA without having to monitor for
illegality or try to prove or disprove illegal distribution of
It may be that a disciplinarian copied on such a notice will ask an
"accused" to prove that s/he has a legal copy of the material s/he
allegedly is redistributing illegally, once the material has been
protected against unauthorized access. So I can't say the University
never looks for evidence. But IT folks are not expected to prove, or
disprove, the allegation.
Further, the University (our office, our Office of General Counsel,
the disciplinary deans at both the undergraduate and graduate levels)
considers the report of an actual infringement to be a timely
opportunity to educate the responsible party regarding copyright and
the University's expectations. All communications and any
disciplinary counseling sessions are geared accordingly.
Senior Policy Advisor
Office of Information Technology (OIT)
and DMCA Agent for Princeton University
rita at princeton.edu
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