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:
- Registration of an agent with the U.S. Copyright Office;
- Development and posting of updated copyright policies;
- Adoption of "notice and takedown" procedures for alleged copyright infringing materials; and
- Accommodation and non-interference with standard technical measures utilized by copyright owners to identify and protect their works.
Under DMCA, College of Western Idaho 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 alleged copyright infringements. When notified, under penalty of perjury, by a copyright owner of infringing materials on a computer attached to the college network, the college will take appropriate 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, CWI may be served with a subpoena for the identity of the owner of a computer determined to contain infringing materials. CWI will respond appropriately to the subpoena, up to and including compliance and production of the name of the computer owner.
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 per se 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. See 17 U.S.C. Section 107 for more information.