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Responsible Administrator: Information Security Director
Date Last Revised: March, 2016
Responsible Office: Information Technology Services

Plan summary

Sharing or downloading copyright protected material without the copyright holder’s permission may be illegal and a violation of Smith policy. Smith College is committed to upholding the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and the copyright protection requirements included in The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), specifically regarding the peer-to-peer electronic file sharing of protected material. The HEOA requires that the institution:

  1. Provide an annual disclosure to students regarding copyright and penalties for violations,
  2. Create and maintain a written plan to effectively combat distribution of copyrighted material using “technology-based deterrents” (this document), reviewed annually, and
  3. Provide a resource to students with legal alternatives to acquiring copyrighted material.

Education and Annual Disclosure

Smith believes that education and awareness are key components in combating illegal sharing of copyright protected material by any member of the Smith community. Smith uses a variety of means to inform the community about copyright law and Smith’s response to claims of copyright infringement, including web based resources and an annual notice to students.

The annual notice to students is generally sent by email at the beginning of the fall semester, and includes the following content:

  • A statement that the unauthorized distribution of copyright protected material may bring civil and criminal penalties,
  • A summary of the penalties for violating copyright law, and
  • A description of the college’s specific policies relating to copyright
  • A resource or reference for legal alternatives to acquire copyright protected material.

EDUCAUSE maintains a website listing legal alternatives for copyright protected material:

Plan to “effectively combat” unauthorized distribution of copyright protected material

Smith College’s primary method to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyright protected material is its procedure to accept and respond to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violation claims. Smith has registered the following agent with the federal Copyright Office:

Ben Marsden
Information Security Director
Stoddard Hall
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063
Phone : 413-585-4479
Email :

Smith’s ITS department uses the following procedure to respond to notice of claims of copyright violation (“take down” notices), in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act:

  • Confirm that the notice is in compliance with the DMCA, and represents a legitimate claim of possible copyright violation
  • Using device network registration and Smith identity management resources, determine a probable link from the information contained in the complaint to an individual in the Smith community
  • If it is a first-time offence, give notice via email to the identified individual of the copyright violation claim and a warning of potential penalties for failure to comply
  • If it is a second or subsequent offense (within an academic year), require the individual to respond in person to the complaint
  • Block the peer-to-peer service of the identified network address at Smith’s Internet gateway

If an identified individual fails to satisfactorily comply with these procedures, they will be referred to the applicable adjudicating authority for further action and possible discipline. For students, the matter will be referred to the Dean of the College for possible adjudication by the College Judicial Board according to procedures outlined in the Student Handbook

Policies and resources on copyright, compliance and acceptable use.

Smith maintains several resources related to copyright compliance with copyright law. These include:

Message to students

Dear Smith students,

It is important for you to be aware of and abide by the laws and policies concerning copyright protected material, and especially copyright protected digital content, such as video, music, books and software.

The unauthorized download or distribution of copyrighted materials over the Internet is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) federal law, and the Smith College Acceptable Use of Computer Resources Policy (AUP).  It may result in civil or criminal legal action brought against you by the copyright holder. A violation of Smith’s AUP may result in a disciplinary hearing before the Smith Judicial Board.

Copyright protected content can be legally obtained from a wide variety of sources. EDUCAUSE maintains a list of resource options for legally downloading protected material.

Summary of the process for responding to a DMCA violation notice:
When Smith receives a legitimate claim of possible copyright infringement, we will make a reasonable effort to identify the person responsible for the protected content, alert you to the violation claim, and require that you respond by either removing the content or explaining why you believe the violation claim is in error. For a repeat violation, the matter may be forwarded to the Dean of Students office for possible judicial board review.

Summary of Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws
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.

Summary of Smith College policies and copyright resources
As a user of Smith College’s IT resources, you are required to comply with Smith’s policies. Please take the time to review the following policies and resources on copyright.

Also see the Web site of the U.S. Copyright Office at, especially their FAQ's at

If you have any questions, please contact me.
Ben Marsden
Information Security Director
Information Technology Services
201 Stoddard Hall
ext. 4479

Smith College official correspondence





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