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Digital Millennium Copyright Act at CSUN

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

This page is intended to serve as a resource for the CSUN community to better understand the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and how the University responds to instances that are detected on its network. CSUN takes copyright issues very seriously. If you download a song or a movie, a computer game, or a software application in violation of its copyright, you are stealing. If you share copyrighted materials with others, you are helping them steal as well.

What is the DMCA?

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a federal law that was enacted in 1998 to combat the theft of electronic media such as software, games, photography, videos, or music over the internet. The DMCA is a complex act designed to manage digital copyright infringement and liability in many ways, including but not limited to the following:

  • Imposes rules prohibiting the circumvention of technological protection measures in place on copyrighted materials.
  • Imposes rules prohibiting the production and distribution of any technology (hardware or software) whose main purpose is to circumvent copyright protection mechanisms.
  • Sets limitations on copyright infringement liability for internet service providers (such as CSUN).

According to the DMCA, if CSUN (the internet service provider) acts expeditiously to remove or disable access to infringing material identified in a formal notice from the copyright holder (or its agent), the University will not be held liable for copyright infringement of that material. Although CSUN does not typically monitor for these violations, once notified, we are bound by DMCA to act swiftly to stop illegal sharing or posting on the CSUN network.

Designated Agent

The designated agent for the CSUN campus to receive notification of claimed infringement under Title II of the DMCA is:

Kevin Krzewinski
Senior Director Information Systems and Information Security Officer
California State University, Northridge
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge CA, 91330


The DMCA-defined processes involve the following steps on the part of the University:

  • The University will evaluate the notice to be sure it substantially conforms to the statutory requirements: The notice must have all of the following:
  • A physical or digital signature of the owner of an exclusive copyright right (i.e., the copyright owner himself or the owner's exclusive licensee of the right(s) to reproduce, distribute, display, perform or create derivatives) or the owner's authorized agent;
  • A description of the works claimed to be infringed;
  • A description of the allegedly infringing works, sufficient to enable the agent to find them;
  • Sufficient information to enable the agent to contact the complainer;
  • A statement that the complainer believes in good faith that the use of the material is not authorized by the owner, the owner's agent or the law; and
  • A statement that the information in the notice is accurate and, under penalty of perjury, that the complainer is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of one or more exclusive copyright rights. 

If the notice substantially conforms, the University will notify the page owner of the allegation of infringement and will secure voluntary take-down of the work or disable access.

If the notice fails substantially to conform, but the problems are all with requirements 1, 5 or 6 above, the University will contact the copyright owner and try to get the necessary information. The University may do this by supplying the complainer with a copy of or a reference to Section 512 (c) (3) (A) (for notices alleging that content infringes) or Section 512 (d) (3) (for notices that allege that information location tools such as links contribute to infringement of a work).

If the complainer sends the rest of the information, the University will notify the page owner of the allegation of infringement and secure voluntary take-down of the work or disable access to the work.

If the complainer does not respond, or if the notice is nonconforming with respect to requirements 2, 3 or 4, the University may ignore the notice, but will retain it along with a copy of any correspondence attempting to obtain more information to demonstrate that the University did not receive a conforming notice and did what is required to try to get one. 

Can the University protect the personal identities of alleged illegal file sharers at CSUN from industry representatives?

The University cannot protect individuals who, knowingly or not, distribute copyrighted material without an appropriate license or authorization. Typically, when the copyright holder or its agent or representative sends a DMCA copyright complaint to CSUN, they don't ask us to identify the specific person whose computer hosted the alleged infringement; they just want it stopped. If they do make such a request via a court order (e.g., subpoena), though, the University has no choice but to comply. Individual students have been sued for copyright violations in cases like these.

If You Have Received Notice of a DMCA Copyright Complaint

If you have received a notice of a DMCA copyright violation, this indicates that a copyright owner or owner's agent has notified CSUN that you are violating their copyright by downloading, sharing, or copying media. CSUN does not monitor for these violations, however we will launch an internal investigation to track the source of the alleged violation (for example, your computer). Because you have received this notice, you have been identified as the source of the violation and must take down the offending media.

How Will I Recognize the DMCA Notice? 

The sender will be "iso <at>". The email will notify you of the alleged copyright infringement. A copy of this message is also shared with other campus departments as needed for recording purposes. 

What Do I Do Next?

To satisfy the requirements of the DMCA and CSUN policy, if you receive a DMCA take-down notice (AKA copyright complaint), please follow these instructions:

  • You must delete the file(s), song, movie, etc., unless it was obtained legally. If you got it by illegal download, copying from someone else's DVD, etc., then delete it.
  • We strongly recommend you remove or disable the file sharing software on your computer (also called "torrent" software).
  • You must REPLY within two business days to the email we sent you with this statement: "I have ceased the unauthorized sharing of copyrighted material from my computer."  If you believe the notification was forwarded to you in error, please consult the "Counter-Notification" section below. Note: Please reply to the email we send you, not to the copyright holder or agent.
  • If you don't reply back within two (2) business day, your computer's CSUN network access will be blocked. Please be aware that regardless of what CSUN does, the copyright holder may still pursue additional legal remedies.

While it is possible you were unaware that the activity is illegal - or that someone else has used security vulnerabilities on your computer to conduct illegal activity without your knowledge - you are still responsible for how your computer is used on the CSUN network. If you need guidance on how to secure your machine against hackers and other threats, visit our Information Security website.


If you are certain that you are legally using the material the copyright owner says you are infringing upon, or that the copyright owner has misidentified the material, you can file a counter-notice - after you remove the specified material from your computer or network access to your computer (network device) has been disabled.

Reporting DMCA Violations or Questions

  • For more information or to report copyright violations, email



Is it legal to download copyrighted materials on my computer?

Yes, If you paid for the materials from a reputable source. Digital media, such as music, movies, games, books, and applications, can be purchased online from many different marketplaces such as iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon. Once purchased, you are permitted to keep a copy of the file for personal use. Streaming services, such as Netflix provide access to a wide selection of titles for a monthly fee. You may view or listen to this content as long as your subscription is active. 

What is “fair use”, and how does it apply to copyright law?

Fair Use is a legally permissible use of copyrighted material for specific purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching or scholarship. For more information about fair use, see: The best course of action is to get permission from a copyright holder before using their work. If the copyright holder does not agree that your use qualifies as “fair”, legal action can be brought against you. Downloading and distributing copyrighted materials without authorization from the rights-holder is never an example of fair use.

Is it legal to store copyrighted materials on my computer?

Yes, as long as you stay within the limits of your license. In most circumstances, if you paid for something you may store it, but you may not distribute it. 

I have been notified that my computer is sharing copyrighted materials, but I am not aware that I had them on my system or that I was sharing them with others. How can this be?

This occurs when someone other than the owner is using the computer, most often with the owner's permission. When you give someone access to a computer registered to you, you are taking responsibility for their actions on the CSUN network. Even if they used the computer on another network, they may have left file-sharing software running in the background. For assistance in de-registering computers you no longer use, checking for background software, and securing your computer from unauthorized use,  please contact The IT Help Center.  There are many steps that all personal computer owners should take to secure their systems. CSUN expects users to take reasonable precautions to secure their personal computers, and individuals may be held responsible for misconduct that occurs from others' use or misuse of their systems. If you receive a copyright violation notice and suspect that your computer has been compromised, please contact Information Security.

I have legally obtained copyrighted materials on my computer, but I'm concerned that my computer may be sharing these files with others on the network without my knowledge. What can I do?

A number of peer-to-peer file-sharing applications are configured to enable sharing of files on your system by default. These programs typically scan your computer for selected content, such as video and audio files, and then share these files with others on the Internet. This can violate your privacy and potentially break the law regarding unauthorized distribution of copyrighted works. Many peer-to-peer software packages allow you to disable file sharing, although few explicitly show you how. For assistance with the process of disabling filesharing applications, contact the IT Help Center.

How can a copyright holder find out if I have copyrighted materials on my computer?

The most likely way is if the materials are shared on the internet, either through publication to a personal website or file-sharing service. Your Internet activities are not private. When you connect to a file-sharing network, you can be simultaneously downloading and distributing materials. Your IP address identifies you to anyone connected to the same tracker, and they can easily see the files being shared by that IP. Copyright holders search the Internet to determine whether copyrighted material is being illegally distributed. They often search with the same peer-to-peer software (e.g. BitTorrent) used by those who share files. In a sense, they act like any individual looking for a particular file, say a movie. When they find a file, however, they issue a copyright infringement notice to the network provider from which the file was transmitted.

If my computer is found to have copyrighted material, what steps can CSUN take as a result?

When a computer on the CSUN Network is implicated in copyright infringement, the individual responsible for that computer is notified about the notice by the CSUN Information Security department, and asked to cease and desist immediately from downloading, copying or distributing copyrighted material in violation of the law. Repeat infringements may result in termination of network access. In appropriate circumstances, CSUN will terminate the network access of users who are found to have repeatedly infringed the copyrights of others.  CSUN's copyright policy is here.

If my computer is found to have copyrighted materials, what steps can the copyright holder take against me?

Copyright owners can file civil suits to recover damages and costs. In many cases, statutory damages of up to $30,000, or up to $150,000 for willful infringement, may be awarded even if there is no proof of actual damages. In addition, in certain cases of willful infringement, the government can file criminal charges, which can result in substantial fines and imprisonment. Use of an academic network does not confer immunity from copyright law, nor can CSUN protect its students, faculty, or staff from criminal investigations or lawsuits relating to their personal actions.

Are there any legal alternatives that are approved for sharing digital music and movies?

Yes. The Higher Education Opportunity Act requires all colleges and universities to offer legal alternatives to unauthorized downloading. EDUCAUSE offers many legal higher education technology resource. More information about these alternatives and other related content may be found at

I am a student, what happens if I am caught downloading copyright materials?

On a first offense, students will have their network connection disabled until the student is counseled regarding the DMCA by an Information Security staff member. They will need to contact the IT Help Center to have their computer reviewed for copyright materials. Once it has been certified that the copyrighted material was removed, they will need to sign a form acknowledging the violation. After completion, their computer will be allowed back on the network. 

On second and subsequent offenses, students will have their network connection disabled and will be referred to Student Affairs for potential disciplinary action. Network access will remain disabled until reinstatement is recommended by the Office of Student Affairs/ More information can be found om the Student Affairs and Housing web sites.

I am an employee, what happens if I am caught downloading copyright materials?

On a first offense, the employee’s supervisor and Human Resources will be notified of the violation and the employee will be counseled regarding the DMCA violation by an Information Security staff member.

On second and subsequent offenses, the employee’s supervisor, the Dean or VP and the Department of Human Resources will be notified of the violation. If the employee needs continued network access for his or her job responsibilities, the employee’s supervisor, in consultation with the Department of Human Resources, should present a reasonable plan of action to the ISO to prevent future DMCA violations by the employee on CSUN network.