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Copyright Infringement Procedures

This document outlines the steps that UMass Amherst IT will take when notified of alleged copyright violations on the campus network. These procedures satisfy the university's legal obligations under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.


Copyright holders or their designated agents may contact the university with any one of the complaints described below. This occurs when a computer registered on the campus network is identified as illegally distributing copyrighted materials .

Note: The university does not monitor individual Internet connections. Copyright complaints do not originate from UMass Amherst or UMass Amherst IT.

DMCA Complaints (Takedown Notices)

Formal complaints that copyright holders may choose to file with the university for every explicit instance of copyright infringement.

If you have received a copyright violation, download our Understand Your Copyright Violation Notice (pdf, 64k) handout for information on what to do next.

A. First Violation Procedures

If this is your first DMCA complaint:

UMass Amherst IT's Responsibilities
UMass Amherst IT will:

  1. Disable access to the materials violating copyright and suspend the network connection of the computer using these materials.
  2. Inform the alleged infringers of the existing complaints via the Notice of Copyright Violation Form (pdf, 19k).

UMass Amherst IT does not perform digital forensics, but can provide more information about the specific files that prompted a copyright complaint.

Your Responsibilities
To reconnect to the campus network, you must:

  1. Return the signed Notice of Copyright Violation to UMass Amherst IT (A109 LGRC). A signed form only confirms the receipt of the Notice and it is not an admission of responsibility.
  2. Take the Copyright Quiz.

You are responsible for all activities on the campus network originating from computer(s) registered in your name. Copyright holders reserve the right to contact the University for each instance of copyright infringement. Learn how to avoid copyright infringement.

B. Multiple Violation Procedures

For your second and any subsequent complaints:

UMass Amherst IT's Responsibilities
UMass Amherst IT will:

  1. Follow the First Violation Procedures -- disable the network connection of the computer identified in the DMCA Complaint and provide you with the Notice of Copyright Violation Form.
  2. (If you have received more than two copyright complaints or you have not attended the Copyright Class) Forward your name to the Dean of Students Office for disciplinary action. Sanctions could include permanent removal from the campus network and withdrawal from the University.

Your Responsibilities
Students will be able to reconnect to the campus network once they complete the First Violation Procedures (above) and attend a mandatory Copyright Class.

Early Settlement Letters

Settlement options that copyright holders may offer before pursuing formal legal action.

If you have received an Early Settlement Letter, download our Understand Your Early Settlement Letter (pdf, 69k) handout for information on what to do next.

UMass Amherst IT's Responsibilities
UMass Amherst IT will:

  1. Contact the affected individuals by phone and email and forward Early Settlement packages in person.
  2. Offer an optional in-person consultation to discuss the situation in more detail. Note: These consultations are designed to answer general questions, and do not constitute legal advice.

Your Responsibilities
You are encouraged to seek legal counsel in order to obtain a full understanding of these letters' possible consequences.

  • Early Settlement Letters are highly time-sensitive communications -- it is in your best interest to take action as soon as possible.
  • Ignoring Early Settlement Letters may have severe legal implications, and may result in a subpoena. Note: You need to address all settlement communications forwarded from UMass Amherst IT even if you are no longer affiliated with the university.
  1. Seek legal counsel immediately. UMass Amherst IT recommends that students contact Student Legal Services or a private attorney.
  2. Pay the settlement fees -or- pursue the case in court. Note: The minimum statutory damages for the unauthorized use of copyrighted materials can amount to $750 per file.