Copyright for Electronic Media | Policies

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Copyright for Electronic Media

Policy regarding copyright law adherence and infringement.

Owner: Information Technology


Educate members of the College to be responsible users of copyrighted works and to take full advantage of fair use rights in their research, teaching and service activities while adhering to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).



This policy applies to all students, staff, faculty members, officers, employees, and affiliates of Teachers College, Columbia University, including extended learning sites, guests, tenants, visitors, contractors, consultants, vendors, individuals authorized by affiliated institutions and organizations, and all others granted use of and/or access to Teachers College, Columbia University technology resources and data.



Members of the Teachers College community are bound by, and should be familiar with d Columbia University’s Copyright Policy, available here:

Teachers College is legally responsible for acting on the receipt of infringement notices from copyright owners and their authorized agents.  A copyright owner can, through a subpoena, require the College to identify persons engaging in unauthorized copying, downloading or sharing. In accordance with DMCA, if TCIT can determine the user from the IP address, the infringement notice is forwarded directly to the user. An original of the email is maintained. The user’s device may be placed into quarantine and the user may lose network access.


Reporting Electronic Copyright Infringement

A copyright owner may send a notification of claimed infringement (often referred to as a “takedown notice”) to the Teachers College’s designated agent. This notice must include the following:

  • A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
  • Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed, or, if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works at that site.
  • Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material.
  • Information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number, and, if available, an electronic mail address at which the complaining party may be contacted.
  • A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
  • A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

The designated agent under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for Teachers College is:

Maureen Coughlin

Deputy CIO and Director, Client Services and Information Security

Teachers College, Columbia University

525 West 120th Street, Campus Box 43

New York, NY 10027


Penalties for Violation

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 requires institutions to take steps to combat unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials through illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution.  The College generally applies a three step approach to such unauthorized distribution, but particularly egregious misconduct may result in more severe consequences.  

First violation: The student loses network access and must report to the Service Desk to show that material has been removed from their system. The student must also sign a letter acknowledging awareness of the copyright laws and the consequences of further violations. This letter includes a statement that the student understands that sharing other people’s intellectual property without their explicit permission is illegal, and that the student will no longer engage in such activity. Once the infringing material is removed and the letter is signed, network access is usually restored.

Second violation: The student is referred to the Office of the Vice Provost. Once the student has met with the Vice Provost or designee and the infringing material is removed, network access is usually restored. 

Third or subsequent violation: The student is referred for discipline under the Student Conduct Code and may lose network access and student housing privileges permanently.


Civil and Criminal Penalties for Violation of Copyright Laws 

Anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay actual damages or "statutory" damages of $750 to $30,000 per work infringed. For "willful" infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court may also assess costs and attorneys' fees. See Willful infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including up to five years imprisonment and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

More information about Copyright may be found on the Columbia University Policy Library,, the Copyright Advisory Office,, and the U.S. Copyright Office website,, especially their FAQs at


Responsible Office: Teachers College Information Technology

Effective Date: October 1, 2020

Last Updated: July 13, 2020

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