Reminder to Kent State Community on Illegal Downloading of Copyrighted Materials
Because of the large number of copyright violation notices the university has already received this semester, it is important once again to remind members of the Kent State community about the seriousness of this issue, while also clearly outlining the rights and legal responsibilities of the university and each student, faculty and staff member.
It is illegal to download copyrighted materials (including MP3 and other music and video files) from the Internet without permission of the person owning the copyright. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) enacted in 1998, the copyright owner may bring an action in court that may result in civil liability or even criminal prosecution. In addition, Kent State University policies 3342-5-41 and 3342-5-42 require the responsible use of information technology and prohibit the use of university networks for any illegal activity, including copyright infringement. These policies can be referenced at http://www.kent.edu/Administration/is/security/index.cfm.
The DMCA requires an Internet service provider (ISP) to act expeditiously to remove or block access to material upon receipt of a notice from a copyright holder that the material is being distributed on its network. Kent State meets that obligation by immediately blocking network access to the alleged infringing workstation. The individual assigned to that workstation is identified and notified of the complaint by e-mail and official paper correspondence. Network access is re-established only after the alleged infringer has certified that any infringing materials have been removed and that all infringing activities will be stopped.
It is important to note that the university does not make any determination as to whether or not copyright infringement has actually occurred. If an individual violates federal copyright law, the university is not able to assist with his or her defense in any way. Any disagreement or dispute is between the individual and the copyright owner.
However, for individuals who feel unjustly accused, there are procedures established under the law to file a response, or “counter-notification” to the allegations. This process is outlined at http://www.kent.edu/Administration/is/Reporting-Alleged-Infringement.cfm.
Generally, a copyright infringement notice does not contain the name of the person responsible for the computer that contains the infringing material. If the university receives a subpoena or court order, it must supply the name. In addition, the university will attempt to contact the individual before releasing his/her name. However, the university must comply with the court’s requirements and must do so within a reasonable amount of time.
Bottom Line: It is critical that all members of the university community understand the serious consequence that may result from illegal file sharing.