How UB Responds to Allegations of Online Copyright Infringement

UB receives hundreds of online copyright infringement notices (Digital Millenium Copyright Act complaints) each year owing to our status as an Internet Service Provider to the campus community, especially to our students living in UB’s residence halls and apartments.

Where Do DMCA Complaints Come From?

Most DMCA complaints are the result of peer-to-peer file sharing programs which openly share music, movies and other files from your computer with people worldwide.  Copyright holders and their agents watch the Internet for their copyrighted materials, determine the network location of the file being shared and send DMCA notices,  a form of copyright complaint, to UB alleging copyright infringement.

How UB Handles DMCA Complaints

How UB responds to a DMCA Complaint is a complicated process necessitated by the requirements of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Diagram of how UB handles DMCA complaints.

Simplified diagram of the DMCA complaint-handling process

  1. UB’s  DMCA Agent or designee evaluates the DMCA Notice to ensure that it conforms to ALL of the statutory requirements:
    • the name, address, and physical or electronic signature of the owner of an exclusive copyright right or the owner's agent;
    • the allegedly infringing materials and their Internet location;
    • sufficient information to identify the copyrighted works;
    • a statement by the owner/agent that s/he believes in good faith that there is no legal basis for the use of the material;
    • a statement of the accuracy of the notice and, under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner.
  2. If the complaint is well formed, UB’s DMCA Agent or designee requests that technical staff identify the individual responsible for possible copyright infringement using the Internet location of the allegedly infringing materials supplied in the notice. When necessary, technical staff may invoke the assistance of distributed IT staff or department administrators to ascertain the Internet location of materials and identify a responsible individual.
  3. The DMCA agent or designee determines whether the complaint is an alleged first offense for the individual responsible, i.e. the first incident for the individual during the Academic Year (beginning June of each year), or a repeat offense, i.e. an alleged unrelated complaint received after the first offense.
  4. For alleged first offences, the DMCA agent or designee completes this process:
    1. Contacts the identified individual by email to report that UB has received an allegation of copyright infringement in which the individual is implicated.
    2. Enrolls the identified individual in an online Copyright Infringement Avoidance course on UB Learns. This course explains the DMCA, including types of legal notices and penalties, possible on-campus consequences, and some practical advice about how to avoid further DMCA notices.  In the course the individual is directed to:
      • Remove any unauthorized copyrighted material from their technology devices
      • Delete or defeat peer-to-peer file sharing programs on their devices, and
      • Complete an online assessment within the course with a passing grade of 90% within one week of enrollment in the course.
    3. The individual is informed that he or she may request a meeting with the DMCA officer or designee where further details of the alleged infringement may be requested. If the identified individual is certain that he or she is legally using the allegedly infringing material or that the copyright owner has misidentified the material, he or she may file a counter notice.  If the file-sharing and copyright infringement has been non-intentional, for example, as the result of computer compromise or "hacking", the DMCA  officer or designee will instruct the individual to repair and secure the computer system and have the system fixed, and close the complaint.
    4. If the identified individual is an employee of the University, his/her supervisor is also notified of the alleged copyright violation.
    5. For first offenders, once the course requirements are completed, the complaint is considered closed and no further action is taken.  If the course requirements are not completed within one week of enrollment, the DMCA officer or designee will contact the individual. If individual still fails to comply, the DMCA officer or designee will initiate disciplinary action.
  5. For Alleged Repeat Offenders:
    • The process for student alleged "repeat offenders” is to file charges with the Student Wide Judiciary for prosecution as student misconduct.
    • The process for employee alleged repeat offenders is that his or her department head will be informed that the complaint is not the first one, and to initiate appropriate disciplinary action.

UB will reveal names of alleged offenders when and only when given a valid subpoena.

University at Buffalo's designated DMCA Agent:

E-mail DMCA complaints to

UB Information Security Office
201 Computing Center
Buffalo, NY 14260
Phone: 716-645-6997

Still need help?

Contact the UBIT Help Center.