UC Commitment to Copyright Law

The University of California is committed to upholding U.S. copyright law. As an Internet Service Provider under the meaning of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the University does not monitor its networks for the purpose of discovering illegal activity. However, the University pursues a set of ongoing initiatives to ensure that copyright, particularly as it applies to digital assets, is respected within the University community. These initiatives are described below.

  • Education of Students about Copyright
    The University uses a variety of activities, Web sites, and printed materials to educate students about copyright regulations. The campuses hold new student and housing orientations during which students are informed about acceptable use of University computer resources. These sessions generally describe the kinds of activities that are not allowed, possible sanctions for violation of policy, and the strain that illegal file sharing places on the University's network resources. All students who receive University-supported electronic communications accounts are provided their campus's acceptable use policy and are informed that they must abide by its provisions. These policies define which activities are prohibited and seek to educate students about their responsibilities as users of University communications systems. Some campus initiatives also are directed at educating support staff who work with students, such as computer lab managers and help desk personnel.

  • Universitywide Policy on Use of Electronic Communications
    The University's Electronic Communications Policy defines allowable use of all electronic communications resources provided by the University, and requires that electronic communications comply with applicable intellectual property law:

    The contents of all electronic communications shall conform to laws and University policies regarding protection of intellectual property, including laws and policies regarding copyright, patents, and trademarks. When the content and distribution of an electronic communication would exceed fair use as defined by the federal Copyright Act of 1976, users of University electronic communications resources shall secure appropriate permission to distribute protected material in any form, including text, photographic images, audio, video, graphic illustrations, and computer software. (ECP Section III, Allowable Use, D.10)

Campuses implement local policies that further define appropriate use of electronic communications systems. These include guidelines for responding to any violations of law and University policy.

  • Network Management Practices
    Campuses have developed various network management strategies to balance the many and competing demands placed on network resources. Under provisions of the DMCA and as a matter of University policy, the University does not routinely search for illegal activity that may occur over its networks. However, network administrators pay attention to network traffic as one method to manage the resource and ensure that bandwidth is available for academic, research, and administrative uses. In the process, administrators identify anomalies in traffic, such as spikes in usage, and follow up as appropriate. In addition, UC campuses are using or investigating the use of bandwidth-shaping technologies. These technologies allow network administrators to implement strategies that help reserve network access primarily for purposes in alignment with the University's mission.

  • University Judicial Procedures and Effective Remedies
    The University handles claims of online infringement under the DMCA through established processes.

    Once notified of possible copyright infringement, most students do not repeat the activity, and most cases do not result in a University judicial process. When it is necessary to initiate a judicial review, however, campuses utilize established local procedures for adjudicating violations of University policy, including copyright violations. Appropriate sanctions are imposed according to University guidelines. The type of sanction imposed depends on the facts of the case and may range from probation to loss of privileges, to suspension, and, potentially, to dismissal from the University. Campuses may use sanctions as a means to further educate students about responsibilities. For example, the student may be required to take an ethics course, carry out community service, or develop copyright education materials for distribution.

    It is important to note that the UC Electronic Communications Policy provides for sanctions. It states that "In compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the university reserves the right to suspend or terminate access to university electronic communications systems and services by any user who repeatedly violates copyright law." (ECP Section III Allowable Use, E)

The University recognizes that the emergence of file sharing technologies challenges the University community as a whole to think in new ways about copyright, ethical obligations, academic culture, and operational constraints. A significant producer and consumer of intellectual property, the University has a profound interest in upholding copyright law and will continue to work to find innovative and effective solutions, including ongoing educational efforts, that meet these complex challenges.