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Monday, June 25, 2018

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UCR Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Interim Policy 400-70



The Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act, also known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), is a complex set of legislation that amends federal copyright law to reflect the digital environment. Online Copyright Infringement Claims made against faculty, students, or staff at UCR can result in the campus itself being liable for infringement and thus subject to significant monetary penalties. The DMCA contains provisions under which the University may, under certain circumstances and at its own discretion, limit its liability for copyright infringement that occurs on its systems and networks.

The DMCA does not alter the fair use provisions of the Copyright Act, nor does it require Online Service Providers to adhere to its procedures if the campus does not wish to seek Liability Shelter. Any defense which would otherwise be available to a provider remains available. Accordingly, University guidelines on the appropriate use of copyrighted material for teaching and research remain applicable.


This policy/procedure is intended for department heads and managers who may need to consider taking steps to reduce University and ultimately departmental financial liability that may result from alleged acts of online copyright infringement by students, faculty or staff of the department.

This policy/procedure describes the requirements that must be met in order to qualify for Liability Shelter and identifies the Campus Officials responsible for responding to a Claim and for initiating necessary corrective action, if required.


Copyright: is the intangible right granted to the author or creator of an original literary or artistic work fixed in a tangible form of expression whereby the author or creator is invested, for a limited period, with the sole and exclusive privilege of reproducing, publishing and/or selling copies of that work.

Designated Agent: in accordance with DMCA requirements, the person identified by the campus to receive and process notification of claimed copyright infringement. UCR has registered its Designated Agent with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Liability Shelter: refers to the provision of the DMCA which limits the financial liability of qualifying Online Service Providers for copyright violations of their users.

Online Copyright Infringement Claim (Claim): written or electronic mail communication of a copyright holder identifying a copyrighted work and specific online material alleged to be infringing such copyrighted work. The Claim must include a statement that the information contained in the Claim is accurate and that the copyright holder has a good faith belief that use of the material is unauthorized.

Online Service Provider: for the purpose of this policy, the individual campus units or departments that provide online access services to the UCR community including, but not limited to, schools, divisions, departments, libraries, and labs.


The University encourages the free flow of ideas and the provision of resources in support of academic pursuits. However, the University does not condone the illegal or inappropriate use of material subject to copyright protections that happens to be available through online systems and services that the University makes available to its users. UCR faculty, staff, and students need to be mindful of the copyright protections afforded to online materials and that violations of these protections may result in significant penalties.

In the event that a Claim is received alleging copyright infringement on the part of a UCR faculty member, staff member or student, Campus Officials, as designated herein, shall respond to evaluate the basis for the allegation and will take action, as warranted, to end the infringement in accordance with existing UC policies. If copyright infringement allegations are upheld and result in financial liability to the University, that liability shall be assigned to the department or unit of the infringer.

Such Claims are required to be sent to the Designated Agent for the campus. The Designated Agent will respond in accordance with the requirements of the DMCA Liability Shelter provisions.

A. General Provisions

UCR meets the DMCA general eligibility requirements for Liability Shelter as a qualified provider of online services, including accommodating and not interfering with standard technical measures used to identify and protect copyrighted works, and adopting and implementing a policy that provides for the termination of services to persons who are repeat infringers.

Duties of the Designated Agent

The registration of an agent's name with the Copyright Office is a prerequisite to invoking the Liability Shelter. The Designated Agent representing UCR is responsible for :

  • ensuring that the notice from the complaining party meets the minimum requirements of the DMCA and if not, making a good faith effort to secure same;

  • coordinating actions between the claimant and the alleged infringer;

  • making the initial determination as to which campus units, departments and Online Service Providers are involved; and

  • maintaining a record, as required by the DMCA to qualify for Liability Shelter, of all infringement notifications and actions taken in response to them, including the names of faculty or graduate students in a teaching or research function named in a complaint, for a period of three years from the date of the alleged infringement. Such records will be held in confidence by the Designated Agent and shall not be disclosed except as required by law or University policy.

Online Copyright Infringement Penalties

Violation of University policies governing appropriate use of copyrighted materials may result in, but is not limited to, the restriction of access to campus information technology resources. Responsibility for such determination is designated as follows:

  • The Executive Vice Chancellor and the appropriate Dean for faculty;

  • The Dean of Students and Residence Hall Judicial Director for students (who, in connection with the alleged infringement, were not acting in the capacity of UCR employees);

  • The appropriate Dean and Vice Chancellor of Administration for staff.

B. Specific Provisions

With respect to any alleged specific claim, the following DMCA criteria must be met in order to qualify for Liability Shelter for infringing materials hosted on UCR systems:

  • Online Service Providers had no actual knowledge of the infringing activity or knowledge of circumstances from which infringing activity was apparent or, if it became aware of such, acted expeditiously to remove or block access to it;

  • UCR did not receive direct financial benefit from the infringing activity;

  • Upon notice of the alleged infringing activity, UCR responded expeditiously to remove or block access to the material.

The determination to invoke the Liability Shelter provision will be made on a case-by-case basis, mindful of issues of academic freedom and the research and instructional responsibilities of faculty and of existing defenses afforded by, for example, the fair use provisions of United States copyright law.

Liability Rules for Non-profit Educational Institutions

The DMCA contains a special provision designed to clarify that not all activity of a faculty member or a graduate student who is an employee performing a teaching or research function will be considered the institution's activity. Said individual's knowledge or awareness of his or her infringing activity will not be attributed to the institution, so as to avoid disqualifying the institution from eligibility, if:

  • the activity did not involve access to instructional materials that were required or recommended for a course taught by said faculty member or graduate student in the three year period immediately preceding the date of the alleged infringement;

  • the institution has not received more than two prior complaints of infringement by said faculty member or graduate student in the three year period immediately preceding the date of the alleged infringement; and

  • the University makes available to all of its users informational materials describing and promoting compliance with copyright law.

The infringing activity of a UCR student (other than in his/her capacity as a UCR employee) also qualifies for consideration of Liability Shelter.


  1. The following steps should be taken by the affected Campus Officials after receipt of a Claim and upon eventual determination that the limited liability protection afforded by the DMCA should be invoked for that Claim by the University. The Designated Agent and Associate Vice Chancellor of Computing & Communications will make such a determination expeditiously and in consultation with one or more Campus Officials as noted below.

Designated Agent

Receives and processes notice of Claim.

  • Acknowledges receipt of Claim to claimant. Ensures that the Claim substantially conforms to content requirements. If required information is lacking, makes reasonable attempt to obtain same from claimant;

  • Confirms location and identity of infringing materials noted in the Claim and identifies publisher of such materials;

  • Sends Claim and local information to Associate Vice Chancellor - Computing & Communications.
Designated Agent and Associate Vice Chancellor of Computing & Communications

1. Reviews Claim and consults with one or more of the following as appropriate:

  • Dean of appropriate school or division if publisher of disputed materials is a faculty member. May consult with Chair of the Academic Senate when a Claim involving a faculty member is disputed;

  • Dean of appropriate school or division if publisher of disputed materials is a student employed by UCR in a teaching or research function;

  • Dean of Students and Residence Halls Judicial Director if publisher of disputed materials is a student who was not acting in a capacity as an employee of UCR;

  • Appropriate Vice Chancellor or Dean if publisher of disputed materials is a staff member;

  • University Librarian for issues relating to fair use doctrine.

2. Informs publisher of alleged infringing materials that a Claim has been lodged. At his/her discretion, may inform the publisher that he/she may submit a counter notification if there is reason to believe that the Claim is mistaken.

3. Following consultation with the above individuals as appropriate, determines whether access to the material should be blocked and if so, blocks access and directs the Campus Official or department to have the material removed expeditiously from the appropriate server:

  • The departmental DMCA contact, acting on behalf of the appropriate Dean or Vice Chancellor if it involves an administrative unit, if the material is made available through a server in a school, division, lab or administrative unit;

  • Residence Halls Judicial Officer, if the material is made available through a server located in On Campus Housing units;

  • Computing & Communications, if the material is made available through a student's personal web page hosted by UCR;

  • Student Life & Leadership Center, if the material is made available through the Web pages of a registered student organization.
4. Notifies publisher of infringing materials and claimant of decision in writing (electronic mail or paper) and copies the Designated Agent.
  1. The DMCA allows a copyright holder to request that a federal district court issue a subpoena to the Online Service Provider requiring it to identify the individual who is reponsible for the alleged infringement. A subpoena may be requested only after a Claim has been received from the copyright holder. If the campus receives such a subpoena, the subpoena should be faxed to University Counsel Mary MacDonald, Office of the President, at (510) 987-9757.


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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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