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Copyright Information and Guidelines

This guide for the Bentley University community presents information on copyright and provides guidance in evaluating the use of copyrighted material in higher education and scholarship.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act

On October 12, 1998, the U.S. Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), ending many months of turbulent negotiations regarding its provisions. Two weeks later, on October 28th, President Clinton signed the Act into law. The Act is designed to implement the treaties signed in December 1996 at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Geneva conference, but also contains additional provisions addressing related matters. As was the case with the 'No Electronic Theft' Act (1997), the bill was originally supported by the software and entertainment industries, and opposed by scientists, librarians, and academics.

In general, the DMCA:

  • Makes it a crime to circumvent anti-piracy measures built into most commercial software.

  • Outlaws the manufacture, sale, or distribution of code-cracking devices used to illegally copy software.

  • Does permit the cracking of copyright protection devices, however, to conduct encryption research, assess product  interoperability, and test computer security systems.

  • Provides exemptions from anti-circumvention provisions for nonprofit libraries, archives, and educational institutions under certain circumstances.

  • In general, limits Internet service providers from copyright infringement liability for simply transmitting information over the Internet.

  • Service providers, however, are expected to remove material from users' web sites that appears to constitute copyright infringement.

  • Limits liability of nonprofit institutions of higher education -- when they serve as online service providers and under certain circumstances -- for copyright infringement by faculty members or graduate students.

  • Requires that "webcasters" pay licensing fees to record companies.

  • Requires that the Register of Copyrights, after consultation with relevant parties, submit to Congress recommendations regarding how to promote distance education through digital technologies while "maintaining an appropriate balance between the rights of copyright owners and the needs of users."

  • States explicitly that "[n]othing in this section shall affect rights, remedies, limitations, or defenses to copyright infringement, including fair use..."


Source: The UCLA Online Institute for Cyberspace Law and Policy

Bentley University's Digital Millennium Copyright Policy

The distribution of copyrighted material, which includes music, movies, videos, software, games and other kinds of copyright-protected and non-copyright-protected information, for which you do not have the owner's permission, is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), University policy and criminal and civil laws. Violations of copyright law may result in temporary or permanent loss of access rights, fines, assignment of financial responsibility, disciplinary action up to and including immediate termination of employment, expulsion as a student, and legal action. Moreover, using these programs may contribute to an excessive consumption of bandwidth and create a potential security risk, all of which are violations of Bentley policy.   

As part of Bentley’s compliance with the DMCA and federal copyright law, we employ bandwidth shaping and traffic monitoring tools to combat DMCA violations. We also designated a DMCA Agent who responds to notices of copyright violations if they occur. When the University receives a notice alleging copyright infringement, Bentley’s DMCA agent works with staff in Information Technology, Human Resources and Student Affairs to research and adequately address the infringement as follows:

  1. The University DMCA Agent assesses the DMCA Notice to ensure that it conforms to the statutory requirements.
  2. The University DMCA Agent requests that IT staff identify the individual responsible for possible copyright infringement using the Internet location of the allegedly infringing materials supplied in the notice.
  3. If IT staff members are unable to identify the responsible individual, they will send the DMCA notice back to the DMCA Agent noting that it is not possible to identify the responsible individual.
  4. When IT staff members identify the responsible individual as a student, they will forward that information to the DMCA Agent and the Dean of Student Affairs. The Dean of Student Affairs will address the infringement through Bentley’s judicial process.
  5. When IT staff identify the responsible individual as an employee, they will forward that information to the DMCA Agent and the Director of Human Resources. The Director of Human Resources will address the infringement in accordance with Bentley’s Human Resources policies.

If the file-sharing and copyright infringement has been non-intentional, for example, as the result of computer compromise or "hacking", the student or employee will be instructed to work with Bentley’s Help Desk to repair and secure the computer system.  Bentley also encourages all students and employees to subscribe to legal downloading services to prevent violation of federal law and University policies. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) lists many of their approved music downloading services.

In order to maintain safe harbor under the DMCA, it is necessary that Bentley terminate Internet services of students, faculty, or staff who receive three DMCA notices that (a) conform to statutory requirements and (b) where no counter-notification has been filed.

For questions regarding copyright law and the DMCA: Matthew Van Sleet, Circulation and Reserves Librarian.

Source: Bentley University


Please note that the above information is for reference purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. It is advisable to always conduct a Fair Use Analysis whenever there is a question regarding the lawful use of copyrighted material. If, after careful evaluation, it is determined that the use of particular material would violate copyright law, or if you need to purchase copyright permissions for such use, please contact Matthew Van Sleet at 781.891.2311 or

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