Digital Millennium Copyright Act


The DMCA is a federal law that criminalizes the production and dissemination of technology, devices and services intended to circumvent copyright protections. In addition, the DMCA heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet.

Helpful Links

For more information, please visit:

U.S. Copyright Office

FAQs About Copyright

Copyright Infringement

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 sections 504 and 505 of the Copyright Act.

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.

RIAA Actions

In December 2008, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced that it was abandoning its longstanding practice of filing lawsuits against students for infringing copyrights via illegal file sharing. The RIAA had reportedly filed over 17,500 lawsuits through early 2008. Despite the new moratorium on lawsuits, the RIAA’s aggressive enforcement campaign continues on other fronts and Lamar University urges all students to refrain from copyright infringing behavior.

Lamar's Response

Lamar University does not routinely monitor the content of network transmissions except as necessary to identify and repel network attacks, viruses, worms and other malware. However, many P2P networks are used almost exclusively for illegal file sharing and are also favorite channels for spreading malware due to their popularity and pervasiveness.

To mitigate these threats, Lamar University employs various methods to block P2P network traffic at the internet facing perimeter of its network. However, these methods are not 100% effective and not all P2P traffic is blocked. Students should assume that P2P file sharing activity on the campus network is visible to the RIAA and other content owners that monitor the Internet for copyright infringement activity.