Effective Date: 9/17/2018

Revised: 03/04/2024

DMCA Guidelines PDF

As per the University Copyright Policy, Duquesne takes copyright violations seriously. Besides raising awareness about copyrighted works laws, it takes appropriate action in support of enforcement as required by policy and law. United States copyright law "protects the original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device."

The University's Copyright policy states "unauthorized use and distribution of copyrighted works can deprive creators and publishers of a fair return on their work and inhibit the creation of new works. Respect for the intellectual and creative work and property of others has always been essential to the mission of colleges and universities. As members of the academic community, we value the free exchange of ideas. But just as the University does not tolerate plagiarism, it cannot condone the unauthorized use and distribution of intellectual and creative work. Such protected works may include, but are not limited to, written texts (whether in physical or electronic form), recorded music or audio files, musical scores, photographic images, and video images." Furthermore, TAP No. 26: Acceptable Use of Computing Resources prohibits the distribution of copyright-protected material including DMCA protected material via the University network or computer systems, unless the copyright owner grants permission.

The Higher Education Opportunity Act

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-315) Section 488 requires institutions of higher education to annually inform students that "unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject the students to civil and criminal liabilities." Duquesne University does this through the student handbook which is communicated to students each semester. The law goes on to require institutions "to provide a summary of penalties for violation of Federal copyright laws, including disciplinary actions that are taken against students who engage in unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials using the institution's information system." Copyright protected materials can include, but are not necessarily limited to: music, movies or other video, literary works, software, digital images or libraries.

DMCA Takedown Notice

A DMCA Takedown Notice is a legal notification from a copyright holder or their representatives instructing the recipient to remove or make unavailable the copyright-protected work cited. Duquesne University typically receives DMCA Takedown Notices through email. Notifications must contain the following elements to be valid:

  1. A physical or electronic signature of an authorized representative of the copyright holder of the allegedly infringed content
  2. Identification of the specific copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed
  3. Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing with sufficient detail to allow the service provider to locate the material that is to be removed or made inaccessible.

Penalties and Legal Actions

A user in violation of copyright law may face the following penalties:

  • Suspension from the university network as described under The University Processing of a DMCA Notice
  • Prosecution in criminal court or a civil lawsuit seeking damages. Civil liability for copyright infringement can be as high as $150,000 per instance of infringement in addition to legal fees. Criminal penalties for a first offense may be as high as three years in prison and a fine of $250,000
  • Disciplinary action taken by Human Resources, General Counsel's Office, or the Office of Student Conduct depending on the specific affiliation of the alleged infringer.

Other Legal Actions

Along with DMCA Takedown Notices, copyright holders and their representative agencies have also issued the following types of legal documents:

  • Early Settlement Offer
  • Preservation Request
  • Subpoena

Any of these documents can be sent individually or in groups, along with or instead of a DMCA Takedown Notice.

Avoid Triggering a DMCA Takedown Notice

To avoid violating copyright laws, users should consider the following:

  • Do not publish copyright-protected materials on university web sites without obtaining permission from the copyright holder or their representative.
  • Disable P2P software on all devices before connecting to the campus network.
  • Adhere to Duquesne University's Copyright Policy.
  • Consider using an EDUCAUSE recommended resources for legal downloading.


The unauthorized or improper use of Duquesne University's technology environment, including the failure to comply with these service requirements, constitutes a violation which may result in the loss of access, University disciplinary actions and/or legal prosecution under federal, state and local laws, where applicable. Users are expected to adhere to TAP 26 - Acceptable Use of Computing Resources. Other IT-related policies can be found at duq.edu/cts/policies. Additionally, the University Information Security Incident Response Plan (IRP) provides a response for any DMCA complaint or violation. Complaints or violations can be reported via email to helpFREEDUQUESNE or by calling (412) 396-4357.

The University reserves the right to amend these service requirements at any time without prior notice and to take such further actions as may be necessary or appropriate to comply with other published policies and with applicable federal, state, and local laws.