DePaul University Office of the General Counsel > Educational Resources > Copyright & DMCA Response Plan

Copyright & DMCA Response Plan

Pursuant to the Higher Education Opportunity Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), DePaul has a comprehensive DMCA Response Plan. The plan outlines the University's vigorous efforts to combat illegal downloading and peer-to-peer file sharing of copyrighted materials over DePaul's computer network. It memorializes and expands upon the University's established procedures for deterring and eliminating illegal downloading and file sharing of music, movies, and other copyrighted material.

DePaul takes copyright infringement seriously – and so should you.

Download the DMCA Response Plan

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​​Overview of United States Copyright Law

In the United States, the protection of music, writings, and art dates back to the drafting of the Constitution. While many people associate copyrights only with copying, they actually afford a much wider range of protections. Copyrights provide authors, composers, and artists with a bundle of exclusive rights to their works. These rights include: the right to reproduce (copy), the right to distribute, the right to make derivative works, the right to perform the work publicly, the right to display the work publicly, and the right to produce recordings.

Copyrights extend to all original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression (17 U.S.C. § 102). Copyrights attach to such works regardless of their format. Musical works and motion pictures that have been converted to electronic format receive the same copyright protections as the original recordings.​

What is Copyright Infringement?

Any violation of any of the exclusive rights of a copyright owner constitutes copyright infringement.   Uploading or downloading an electronic file containing music or a motion picture without the copyright owner’s permission interferes with the copyright owner’s rights to reproduce and distribute his/her work. In other words, unauthorized peer-2-peer file sharing is copyright infringement. 


​Illegal downloading may constitute a violation of one or more University policies, including the Acceptable Use Policy/Network Security, the Copyright and Fair Use Policy, and the Code of Student Responsibility.  In addition to any actions taken internally by the University, copyright infringers may be subject to the civil and criminal penalties described below.

Civil and Criminal Penalties for Copyright Infringement

Copyright owners are entitled to legal remedies from infringers, including:

  • Actual damages – the actual damages suffered by him or her as a result of the infringement; 
  • Statutory damages – a monetary award determined by the court in lieu of calculating actual damages; 
  • Profits – the amount of money an infringer earned by using the copyright owner’s intellectual property without having a legal right to do so (17 U.S.C. § 504); and/or
  • Attorneys fees – the amount the copyright owner had to pay his or her attorneys in order to enforce his or her copyrights (17 U.S.C. § 505).   

Statutory damages range from $750.00 to $30,000.00 per work in instances of accidental or non-intentional infringement. In cases of willful infringement, when an infringer knew that his or her actions were illegal, courts may award damages of up to $150,000.00 per work. This means that downloading just ten songs without permission could result in damages of up to $1,500,000.00! In addition, certain forms of copyright infringement,  including the electronic distribution of works being prepared for commercial distribution without the copyright owners permission, are considered felony crimes and carry criminal penalties of up to ten (10) years in prison (17 USC § 506(a), 18 USC § 2319). 

Additional Educational Resources for the DePaul Community

Annual Notification to Students

Pursuant to 34 CFR § 668.43(a)(10), the Dean of Students Office sends an annual notification to all enrolled students that includes the following: (a) a reminder that unauthorized distribution of copyright material may subject students to civil and criminal liabilities, a summary of the penalties for violation of Federal copyright laws, a description of the institution’s policies with respect to peer-to-peer file sharing, including disciplinary actions that are taken against students who engage in illegal downloading or unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials using the institution’s computer networks..

New Student Orientation

The Dean of Students Office speaks to every Premiere DePaul session held throughout the summer. The consequences of illegal downloading, both internal at DePaul and external through litigation, are discussed.

Residence Hall Meetings

Individual Floor Meetings – Every floor on campus has a meeting with the Resident Assistant (RA).  The Assistant Dean gives the RA information to share with her/his residents about illegal downloading.

New Employee Orientation

Every new full-time employee is educated during an in-person new employee orientation program by CSRT staff about the DMCA and the university’s policies against illegal downloading. Educational materials regarding illegal downloading are also included in the University’s online orientation program, which focuses primarily on new part-time employees.

Code of Conduct

The University’s Code of Conduct for employees highlights University policies related to illegal downloading and copyright infringement within the Acceptable Use of Technology section. The Code of Conduct is presented at New Employee Orientation and is reviewed annually during General Compliance Training.

General Compliance Training

General Compliance Training, an annual requirement for all faculty, staff and student employees, frequently includes scenarios and test questions that address copyright and illegal downloading issues relevant to all DePaul employees.

Management Standards Training

On an annual basis, a System Access and Security training class is offered at Management Standards Training for managers. This training session covers DePaul Information Security policies and provides information about consequences of illegal downloading.

Alternatives to Illegal Downloading

Please visit Educause for a list of sites that provide access to lega music, movies, and other copyrighted content online:

http://www.educause.edu/focus-areas-and-initiatives/policy-and-security/educause-policy/issues-and-positions/intellectual-property/legal-sources-onli​​