The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides an opportunity for online service providers (OSPs) to shield themselves from liability for the actions of their subscribers that infringe on the copyrights of others. All institutions of higher education that provide Internet access fall within the scope of the definition of an OSP, with relevant subscribers being their students, faculty and staff.
As an OSP, the College is potentially liable for monetary damages (plus attorneys’ fees) if any of its subscribers provide Internet access to material that infringes on the copyrights of others. (In the case of willful infringement, the statutory damages can be as high as $150,000 per work.) In all cases, the “fair use” exemption that allows use of copyrighted materials in narrowly defined circumstances applies to materials in digital form just as it applies to traditional media.
The DMCA does not require that the College police the Internet activities of its faculty, staff or students. Rather, it requires that the College respond in specified ways to avoid institutional liability when evidence of infringing activity is brought to its attention or when it receives information that makes it apparent that infringing activity is occurring. The College follows DMCA requirements in the following way:
If the College receives any pre-settlement or settlement letters, we will notify students that such letters have been received and will forward those settlement letters to the individuals for whom they are intended. If a student receives such a letter, it is that student’s responsibility to determine how to handle the situation.