The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

If you want to download music, movies, TV, textbooks, or images …

Determining that your actions comply with copyright law is up to you, not the websites or software. The consequences of violating copyright via P2P at UCD include loss of internet privileges for 2 weeks, which can make studies difficult, especially during exams.

So, how to avoid the trap? A little information should help, starting with the fact that people don’t get busted under the DMCA for downloading – it’s for uploading, usually when you have no idea your computer is doing it.

The copyrights are the rights to:

  • Make copies (which downloading and uploading are)
  • Distribute copies (which uploading is)
  • Make derivative works, such as changing formats
  • Perform publicly (think plays, dance, music)
  • Display publicly (think artwork)

If you are going to do any of those with things like music, movies, anime, TV, textbooks, images, and photos, you will need permission of the copyright holder unless one of a few exceptions apply. (Those can be complicated, but they don’t include actions like getting movies or music for personal enjoyment.)

Sadly, it is not uncommon for websites to mislead or lie that the content they provide is legal. They may even charge for it! Peer-to-peer file sharing software is not illegal, but 90+% of the content available through it is protected by copyright, so using P2P to get that content is illegal on the user’s part. Here’s are two short videos about it by a UC student which I think explain it really well from a student’s perspective.

If you received an email from the UC Davis Designated Agent about a DMCA notification related to your Internet connection, read the email carefully – it tells you what happened, what will happen, what to do and who to contact with questions. The matter will be handled within UC Davis unless (1) you file a “counter-notification” (more here) in which case UC Davis will connect the copyright owner and you directly (meaning they’ll know who you are) so you can talk about it, or (2) if UC Davis receives a valid subpoena to identify you. In that case it will attempt to give you advance notice, but will disclose your contact information. And yes, it has happened at UCD.

If You Own the Copyright to Music, Movies, TV, Textbooks or Images …

Among other things, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides a relatively simple process for copyright owners who believe their rights have been infringed online to make it stop.

If you believe your copyrights are being infringed online, you can send a “Notification” asking that the material be removed to the Internet Service Provider (ISP) that’s providing the online access; they are required expeditiously to remove access to the materials. The US Copyright Office maintains a list of the Designated Agents for most ISPs. You can reach the Designated Agent for the UC Davis network at dmca@ucdavis(dot)edu.

More Information on File Sharing and the DMCA is at:

© © © © ©

Definitions of capitalized terms and FAQs are on the University of California copyright website.

If you have an ucdavis(dot)edu email address you can join the DMCA-info listserv or email questions to DMCA(at)ucdavis(dot)edu.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be legal advice about your personal copyrighted property or situation. If you have questions about your own copyright protected work, please consult an attorney with expertise in copyright. UC Davis students may be entitled to a free consultation through ASUCD.