Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

This page is intended to serve as a resource for the UVA community to better understand the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and how the University responds to instances that are detected on its network.  If you have received a DMCA notice and are seeking more information about how to proceed, or you are curious about the UVA policies, standards, procedures, and guidelines that involve DMCA, this site is your comprehensive resource.  UVA 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.

You can access specific information in this webpage more efficiently using these links:

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 UVA)

According to the DMCA, if UVA (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 UVA does not typically monitor for these violations, once notified, we are bound by DMCA to act swiftly to stop illegal sharing on the UVA network.


What happens when you receive a DMCA take-down notice from us?

If you're a UVA student, find out what happens by clicking here.

If you're a UVA employee, find out what happens by clicking here.

If you're a UVA affiliate DMCA, find out what happens by clicking here.

If you do not respond within one business day to our email, your computer may be blocked from accessing the UVA network until you do respond as requested.


The DMCA Compliance Process at UVA

Designating an Agent to Receive Notices

To use the DMCA process, the University is required to make it easy for copyright owners to provide information about alleged infringements. To meet this responsibility, the University has publicly designated an agent to receive such information (see 37 CFR 201.38). The University's agent is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, and the listing of agents is available on-line at The University's agent is:

Robert M. Tyler
Associate University Counsel
University of Virginia
P. O. Box 400225
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4898
(telephone) (434) 924-3586
(facsimile) (434) 982-3070
(e-mail) [email protected]

The agent, in consultation with University Counsel, will make the determinations described below regarding responses to complaints alleging copyright infringement, including whether the institution wishes to use the DMCA procedures and whether a notice received is sufficient under the law.

Discovery of DMCA Violations and Notification Sent to UVA

You may be under the impression that illegal downloads will never be discovered.  However, there are various methods for detecting instances of digital copyright infringement.  Digital media protected by copyright is often imbedded with tracking technology that is configured to notify copyright holders of an offending computer’s location anywhere on the Internet, even on UVA's network.  Once digital media violating copyright such as movies, songs, software, or games are discovered on UVA's network by the copyright holder (such as HBO, Paramount, MGM, etc.), UVA is notified via email (view sample email from copyright owner or agent).  The email contains highly specific information regarding the specific copyrighted materials and sufficient identifying information that UVA uses to locate to person(s) on the network who are alleged to be violating copyright.

UVA's Choice of Response to Allegations of Digital Copyright Infringement

Title II of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the "DMCA," amending Title 17 of the United States Code) provides procedures that may be used by an Internet Service Provider ("ISP") in dealing with claims of infringement. The University of Virginia is an ISP for its own communities of students, faculty and staff and for others using the UVA domain - signified by the address "" or within the range of Internet protocol addresses assigned to UVA.

 The University will follow the following process if it receives a notice from a copyright owner alleging an infringement:

The University will decide whether it is appropriate to use the DMCA-defined process. If the University qualifies for the DMCA-defined process, it will respond to the notice by giving notice to the owner of the page, taking down the allegedly infringing material.

  • If the page owner files a counter-notification, the University will respond to the counter-notice and repost the material unless the complainer files an action to obtain a restraining order.


Even if the University is eligible to use the DMCA-defined processes, which are entirely voluntary for both copyright owners and ISPs, there may be times when it will not use them, especially when alternatives will more quickly resolve the matter to the satisfaction of all parties. The University may use the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) process for handling allegations of copyright violations within the University's domain if it is acting as a content-neutral Internet service provider (ISP) and not as a content provider. The University assumes editorial responsibility for official UVA websites and official UVa on-line resources, which are defined as the official web pages or on-line materials of University schools, departments, divisions and other units. For these sites and resources, UVA is the content provider and not a content-neutral ISP. You may also find within the UVA domain - signified by the address "" or within the range of Internet protocol addresses assigned to the University of Virginia - websites or on-line materials over which the University has no editorial responsibility or control. Such sites include but are not limited to the Web pages or other on-line materials of individual faculty members or students, individual class sites and materials, and the Web pages or on-line materials of student organizations and other organizations not formally a part of the University. For these sites and materials, UVA is a content-neutral ISP and may choose to use the DMCA process for handling copyright-infringement complaints.

  • If the University cannot or chooses not to use the DMCA process, it will respond the way it has responded to any allegation of infringement prior to passage of the DMCA.
Notice and Takedown

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 alleged 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


If the notice substantially conforms, the University will notify the user associated with the alleged infringement and will secure voluntary take-down of the work, block access to the work, and/or disable the user's access to UVA's network.

If the notice fails to substantially conform, and the non-conformance rests with requirements 1, 5 or 6 above, the University may contact the copyright owner and attempt 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 remaining required information, the University will notify the user associated with the alleged infringement and secure voluntary take-down of the work, block access to the work, and/or disable  the user's access to UVA's network. 

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.

  • 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.
So You Believe the Copyright Holder is Wrong and Your Copy is Legitimate or Misidentified?

If you are certain that you are legally using the material in question, or that the copyright owner has misidentified the material, you may file a counter-notice, but only after you remove the specified material from your computer or network access to your computer (network device) has been disabled. It is highly unlikely that you should file a counter-notification. To do so, you must reply to the UVA email you received and show us you have completed the steps detailed in the DMCA counter-notification web page. After the page owner voluntarily takes down the page or the University arranges to disable access to it, the University may receive a substantially conforming counter-notification from the page owner.

Counter-notices can only claim two things: (i) that the copyright owner is mistaken and that the work is lawfully posted or (ii) that the work has been misidentified. A page owner may assert that a use of another's work qualifies as a fair use and so the copyright owner is "mistaken" in characterizing it as infringing.

Counter-notices from page owners must contain the following:

A physical or digital signature of the page owner; A description of the material removed and its location before it was removed; A statement that the page owner believes in good faith that the material was removed by mistake or because it was misidentified; The page owner's name, address and phone number and his or her consent to jurisdiction of the Federal District Court for that address or any Federal District Court if the address is foreign; and A statement that the page owner will accept service of process from the complainer.


If the University receives notice that the complainer has filed an action seeking a court order to restrain the page owner, the University will not repost the allegedly infringing work. It will forward the notice to the page owner and to University Counsel for response as appropriate.

Developed by the Information Security office at the University of Virginia (adapted from related materials developed by the University of Texas System).

Comments to Robert M. Tyler at [email protected]

Takes reasonable steps to notify the page owner about the allegations in a conforming notice that it has received; Promptly sends a copy of any substantially conforming counter-notice to the complainer indicating that it will restore access in 10 business days; and Restores access to the allegedly infringing work within 10 to 14 business days after the day it receives the counter-notice, unless it first receives a notice from the complainer that he or she has filed an action seeking a court order to restrain the page owner.

 Under the DMCA, the University will not be liable to the owner of the page for any harm he or she might suffer because of its actions in disabling access to a page so long as it:


UVA Copyright Policy and Additional Education Materials

The DMCA requires that the University provide information to all of its Internet service users accurately describing and urging compliance with copyright law. The University has established policy on this topic (see, for example, policy on respect for copyrights of digital materials and software), and it provides links to educational resources on copyright at It periodically calls attention to both.


Can the University protect the personal identities of alleged illegal file sharers at UVA 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 UVA, 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.


Reporting DMCA Violations or Questions

Contact and Additional Information