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Information Technology Services
Michigan State University

Procedures for Addressing Instances of Possible Copyright Infringement at MSU

3 September 2010

1. Background

As an academic community, we value the free exchange of ideas and respect the intellectual work and property of others. Consistent with these values, we do not condone plagiarism, nor do we condone the unlawful copying or distribution of copyrighted works in any form.

Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement.

Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or "statutory" damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys' fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505.

Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

For more information, please see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at www.copyright.gov.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), 17 U.S.C. 512(c)(3), amends federal copyright law to specifically address instances of copyright infringement that may occur during the course of digital online communications. These procedures are intended to comply with the provisions of this Act, and with University policies and administrative rulings.

2. MSU Network Acceptable Use

All Michigan State University (“University”) students, faculty, staff, and anyone else granted access to or otherwise using MSU’s computing systems or digital network (“Users”), are expected to abide by the copyright laws of the United States. Users of the University’s computing systems or digital network are individually responsible for their use of these resources and for the consequences of their use. Unlawful copying, distribution or use of copyrighted material is a violation of the Acceptable Use Policy for MSU Information Technology Resources and the University Digital Network administrative ruling (also referred to as the Acceptable Use Policy or AUP). University network administrators may take appropriate actions to limit or terminate the network privileges of Users whose actions infringe an exclusive right held by a copyright owner.

3. Procedures

Proper notice to University. A copyright owner, or person acting on behalf of the owner, must provide the University’s Designated Agent, in the office of IT Services, written notice that information residing on MSU’s  computer systems or networks infringes an exclusive right of the owner. This notice must meet the requirements of the DMCA, and therefore must include:

Name, address and electronic signature of the complaining party;

Identification of the copyrighted work or works claimed to be infringed;

Identification of the material claimed to be infringing and its Internet location;

A statement by the owner that it has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the owner, the owner’s agent, or the law;

A statement of the accuracy of the notice and, under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

This notice (containing content as required by federal law) may be submitted to the University’s Designated Agent by email to dmca@msu.edu.

Notice to User and “take down” of content. Upon receipt of a notice described in the preceding section, the University will promptly undertake the following procedures..

If the User is an employee of MSU, IT Services will refer the complaint and any supporting documentation to the User’s immediate supervisor for follow-up, which may include disciplinary procedures. IT Services also will inform the User of the complaint by e-mail.  The e-mail notice to the User will demand that the User cease and desist any further infringing activity, remove any infringing material from their computer(s) or network file space(s), and inform the User that they have until 5:00pm local time on the second business day following the sending of this notice to contact IT Services and either (a) attest s/he has removed the copyrighted material, or (b) attest s/he has legitimate rights to share the copyrighted material and wishes to file a counter-notice (see below) with the complainant.  If a counter-notice is filed the infringement complaint will be expunged from the User’s record.  If the User fails to respond to IT Services by the deadline their network access will be blocked from the infringing computer.

If the User is a student:

In the case that this complaint is the initial complaint lodged against the User while a MSU student, a $25.00 fee will be posted to the User’s student bill account and the User will be notified of the complaint by e-mail.  The e-mail notice to the User will demand that the User cease and desist any further infringing activity, remove any infringing material from their computer(s) or network file space(s), and inform the User that they have until 5:00pm local time on the second business day following the sending of this notice to access a service-restoration website and either (a) attest s/he has removed the copyrighted material, or (b) attest s/he has legitimate rights to share the copyrighted material and wishes to file a counter-notice (see below) with the complainant.  If a counter-notice is filed the fee will be removed from the student bill account and the infringement complaint expunged from the User’s record.  If the User fails to respond through the restoration website by the deadline their network access will be blocked from the infringing computer.

In the case that this complaint is the second complaint lodged against the User while a MSU student, a $50.00 fee will be posted to the User’s student bill account and the User will be notified of the complaint by e-mail.  The e-mail notice to the User will demand that the User cease and desist any further infringing activity, remove any infringing material from their computer(s) or network file space(s), and inform the User that they have until 5:00pm local time on the second business day following the sending of this notice to personally visit the IT Services Support Desk in 120 Computer Center and either (a) attest he/she has removed the copyrighted material and complete other in-person actions that may be required, or (b) attest s/he has legitimate rights to share the copyrighted material and wishes to file a counter-notice (see below) with the complainant.  If a counter-notice is filed the fee will be removed from the student bill account and the infringement complaint expunged from the User’s record.  If the User fails to complete a meeting with a DMCA Agent at the IT Services Support Desk by the deadline their network access will be blocked from the infringing computer.

In the case that this complaint is the third or subsequent complaint lodged against the User while a MSU student, a $75.00 fee will be posted to the User’s student bill account, IT Services will lodge an administrative complaint against the student with Student Affairs and the User will be notified of the complaint by e-mail; additionally, the User’s network access will be suspended from the infringing computer within 48 hours of the notice being sent.  The e-mail notice to the User will demand that the User cease and desist any further infringing activity, and remove any infringing material from their computer(s) or network file space(s).  At any time, the User may attest s/he has legitimate rights to share the copyrighted material and wishes to file a counter-notice (see below) with the complainant.  If a counter-notice is filed the fee will be removed from the student bill account, the infringement complaint expunged from the User’s record and the administrative complaint withdrawn.

Counter-notice from User. The User may send the University’s Designated Agent a counter notification that the allegation of infringement is based on a mistake or misidentification. This counter-notice must meet the requirements of the DMCA, and therefore must include:

The User’s name, address, phone number and physical or electronic signature;

Identification of the material and its location before removal;

A statement under penalty of perjury that the material was removed by mistake or misidentification;

A statement that the User consents to the jurisdiction of the Federal District Court for the judicial district in which User’s address is located, or, if the address is outside the United States, for any judicial district in which the University (as service provider) may be found, and that the User will accept service of process from the complaining party or its agent.

Transmittal of counter-notice; restoring material; possible court action by complaining party. The University’s Designated Agent will promptly transmit a copy of the counter-notice to the complaining party, and will inform the complaining party that the University will replace the removed material or cease disabling access to it in 10 business days. The University will then replace the removed material or cease disabling access to it not less than 10, nor more than 14, business days following receipt of the counter-notice, unless its Designated Agent first receives notice from the complaining party that the complaining party has filed an action seeking a court order to restrain the subscriber from engaging in infringing activity relating to the material in question on the University’s computer system or network.  If the University’s Designated Agent transmits a counter-notice on behalf of a student, any fee assessed the student in the subject instance will be eliminated from their student bill account, their network access will be restored and any administrative complaints filed with Student Affairs in the subject instance will be withdrawn.