University of California, Riverside UCR Copyright Guidelines for Students, Staff and Faculty
Monday, June 25, 2018

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DMCA Background

What should you do?
Why is this issue important to UCR?
What happens during a DMCA inquiry?


The distribution of copyrighted materials without permission (over the internet) can be a violation of federal law. The law is known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 ("DMCA"). Much of the music, video, or games that are downloaded via programs like KaZaa or eDonkey2000 are distributed without the permission of the copyright owner, and thus these downloads are illegal. Importantly, the programs that are most often used to download music, video, and games automatically allow file distribution from the computer they are installed on. Thus, a computer system may be illegally distributing copyrighted materials to the entire Internet without the computer owner’s knowledge. The federal government and various organizations (such as the Recording Industry Association of America, RIAA) are very serious about enforcing the provisions of the DMCA legislation, and violations can carry very stiff fines and potential jail sentences.

What should you do?

What is the best approach to deal with this issue? Very simply, do not download or distribute copyrighted materials without appropriate permissions. And secondly, if you wish to download copyrighted material, find out how to acquire it legally and take appropriate steps to ensure your computer is not used for illegal file sharing.

Why is this issue important to UCR?

Campuses are often "hot beds" of file sharing activities, both legal and otherwise, because of the large amount of network bandwidth that is available at many colleges and universities.

Many students, staff, and faculty do not realize that sharing of copyrighted materials (without permission) over the Internet is illegal. UCR wants to ensure that all campus constituents are fully aware of the law and act accordingly (it is obviously inappropriate to use UCR’s network for any illegal activities).

Also, UCR students, staff, and faculty should be aware that colleges and universities must QUICKLY respond to DMCA related inquiries since ISPs (Internet Service Providers, like UCR) can be held liable for copyright infringement if they do not promptly resolve illegal distribution activities once they become aware of them. As a result, UCR attempts to resolve DMCA queries in the most expeditious manner possible as soon as the campus is informed of a violation.

What Happens during a DMCA Inquiry?

In general, most DMCA violations result in a “cease and desist” order and are resolved once copyrighted materials are removed from the computer in question. Recently, however, subpoenas have been issued on behalf of the RIAA to acquire information on individuals engaged in illegal file sharing, with the goal of using this data for criminal investigations. Thus, it is more important than ever not to engage in file sharing of copyrighted materials (without permission) and to ensure your computer is not configured to do so.


Those individuals who very actively engage in illegal file sharing are the most likely to face DMCA inquires and subpoenas. However, it is important to remember that downloading even one copyrighted song without permission is against the law and university policy. The best way to deal with this issue is to simply not download or distribute copyrighted materials without appropriate permissions.


Please send us your feedback

UC DMCA Compliance Guidelines

UC Reproduction Of Copyrighted Materials For Teaching And Research Policy

UC Digital Copyright Protection

US Copyright Office DMCA Summary(PDF)

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (PDF)


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