Copyright Law & Complaint Procedure

Denison University encourages all members of the Denison Community to abide by the provisions of copyright law. Denison's Acceptable Use Policy forbids all users of Denison's computing resources from committing "violations of copyright/civil law, including the unauthorized reproduction and use of copyrighted images and text" as well as forbidding "software theft or piracy, data theft, or any other action which violates the intellectual property rights of others".

The Basics of Copyright Law

The basic premise of copyright law is that the owner of a copyright for a creative work has the sole right to the financial proceeds of that work. This principle applies to all creative works: texts, pieces of music, works of art, computer graphics, etc. Furthermore, this principle applies in all media. A text is protected by copyright in electronic form as well as in book form; a musical composition is protected whether it is in the form of a score, a book of lyrics, a long-playing record, a CD, or an MP3 file.

United States copyright law, contained in Title 17 of the United States Code, provides that a copyright holder has the exclusive right to:

  • Reproduce a copyrighted work
  • Prepare sequels or other derivative works
  • Sell, rent, or otherwise distribute copies
  • Display or perform the work in public
  • Transmit the work via digital audio (17 USC 106)

The only substantial exception to this rule that only copyright holders may distribute copyrighted material is the long-standing provision that individuals may make "fair use" of copyrighted materials. Use of a copyrighted work "for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research" (17 USC 107) is generally considered fair use. Fair use does not extend to extensive quotations and may not adversely affect the commercial market  for the work in question.

Fair use is an extremely complicated issue; if you need further information, Stanford University Library's Copyright and Fair Use resources are an excellent place to start.

Digital Media and the Digital Millenium

Copyright law applies to digital resources as well as to conventional paper works. Any distribution of copyrighted digital files — music, movies, text or software — is a violation of Federal law. Placing media files in a location where they are available to other Internet users counts as distribution, as does providing copies to friends. You do not need to sell media files to violate copyright law. Computer software is protected by similar law. Distribution of copyrighted software — Warez, for example — is a violation of Federal civil law; willful infringement for "commercial advantage or private financial gain" (17 USC 504) is a violation of Federal criminal law. The Federal definition of "private financial gain" includes trading copyrighted programs. It is also illegal to attempt to subvert copyright protection mechanisms (17 USC 1201). Again, willful infringement for commercial advantage or private gain converts a civil violation into a criminal offense.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, enacted in 1998, provides protection for copyrighted material in digital form. The DMCA requires that Online Service Providers — including colleges and universities — follow a particular set of procedures in resolving copyright violation claims. Denison has implemented these DMCA-mandated procedures. (For more information, see Report a Copyright Infringement below.) Denison is also taking active measures to educate users about the provisions of copyright law and encourage compliance with it.

Further Reading:

Reporting a Copyright Infringement

To report copyright infringements on servers located at Denison University, please notify:

Lisa Bazley
Chief of Information Technology Services
Denison University
Granville, OH 43023

Phone: (740) 587-6526
E-mail (send reports to): violations@denison.edu
E-mail (direct): bazleyl@denison.edu

Lisa Bazely is the agent designated under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, P.L. 105-304.

Denison will comply with the "Notice and Take Down" provisions of the DMCA by removing the material in question and informing the individual user of the complaint.

Users must file a counter-notice if they wish to make the material available again.