Digital Millennium Copyright Act

What is the DMCA?

In 1998, the U.S. Congress passed into law the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which essentially updates copyright law for the digital environment.

Title II of the DMCA establishes certain requirements for Online Service Providers (OSP) concerning copyright infringement violations including:

  1. registration of an agent with the U.S. Copyright Office;
  2. development and posting of updated copyright policies;
  3. adoption of "notice and takedown" procedures for alleged copyright infringing materials; and
  4. accommodation and non-interference with standard technical measures utilized by copyright owners to identify and protect their works.

Under DMCA, South Texas College is considered an Online Service Provider (OSP) for its students, faculty and staff. DMCA requires the college to expeditiously respond to complaints it receives of copyright infringements. When notified, under penalty of perjury, by a copyright owner of infringing materials on a computer attached to the university network, the college will take immediate action to block network access to the computer and notify the owner of the computer. Network access will be restored after the infringing material is removed from the computer or within 14 days after receiving a proper counter-notification, unless the copyright owner files an action seeking a court order against the computer owner. A second violation may result in an extended loss of access privileges to the college network.  Additionally, as an OSP, STC may be served with a subpoena for the identity of the owner of a computer determined to contain infringing materials. STC will comply with the subpoena.

DMCA and Peer-to-Peer (P2P)

Probably the greatest cause of copyright infringements is the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing services, such as Morpheus, BitTorrent and Limewire, for sharing music and movies. Although the use of P2P file sharing is not illegal, its use to share copyright protected files is. Generally, the P2P file sharing programs install the software and automatically share downloaded files with other Internet users. Copyright owners and their agents use automated methods to actively scan the Internet to detect computers that are illegally sharing copyrighted files.

A statutory limitation to the Copyright Act of importance to nonprofit educational institutions is Section 107, the doctrine of "fair use". Under this doctrine, limited use of copyrighted material is allowed without prior permission of the copyright owner if certain criteria are met. Section 107 lists purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered "fair", and presents factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair.  Additional information concerning copyrights may be obtained from the Additional Resources section at the end of this document.

DMCA Agent

All copyright infringement notifications will be acted upon in accordance with the requirements of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Allegations of copyright infringements found on STC computer resources should be sent to the STC DMCA Agent:


Jose Cruz
Vice President for Information Services & Planning
South Texas College
3201 W. Pecan Blvd.
McAllen, Texas 78501
Phone: (956) 872-3598
Fax: (956) 872-7230
E-mail: copyright@southtexascollege.edu

Contents of Copyright Infringement Notice                                                                                       

According to the DMCA, a claimed infringement notification must be a written communication (email or hard copy letter) to the designated agent of a service provider. When notifying the STC DMCA Agent of an alleged copyright infringement, the following must be provided:

  1. a physical or electronic signature of the copyright owner or person authorized to act on behalf of the owner
  2. identification of the infringed copyrighted work, or, if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a list of works at that site
  3. identification of the infringed material and information reasonably sufficient to permit STC to locate the material
  4. contact information of the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number, email address
  5. a statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law
  6. a statement that the information contained in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner

DMCA Notice and Takedown Procedures

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Notice and Takedown Procedure documents the steps to be followed when the DMCA Agent for STC receives a complaint from a copyright holder or agent of a copyright holder, hereafter referred to as the "complainant."

According to the DMCA, a claimed infringement notification must be a written communication (email or hard copy letter) to the designated agent of a service provider. When notifying the college’s DMCA Agent of an alleged copyright infringement, the following must be provided:

  1. a physical or electronic signature of the complainant
  2. identification of the infringed copyrighted work, or, if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a list of works at that site
  3. identification of the infringed material and information reasonably sufficient to permit STC to locate the material
  4. contact information of the complainant, such as an address, telephone number, electronic mail address
  5. a statement that the complainant has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law
  6. a statement that the information contained in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complainant is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner

If the notice received from a complainant has not been previously reviewed by the college's DMCA agent, it is forwarded to the college's General Counsel to determine if it complies with the proper form of a DMCA notice and if the complainant has legal standing to file a complaint.

If the notice is deemed valid, the college's DMCA Agent proceeds with the Takedown Procedure.

Additional Resources