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The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) have been undergoing a vigorous defense of their copyrights by employing various corporations that monitor popular file sharing sites and record the IP addresses of users that download and disseminate their material. The university routinely receives letters of infringements and it is the job of the IT professionals in the various departments in LSA to notify the people responsible for downloading copyrighted data illegally and ask them to modify their behavior. This document explains LSA policy in dealing with these infringement notices, and resources that are available to educate users.
The RIAA and MPAA employ several contractors who monitor many of the major file sharing networks and popular bit torrents, and pass information on IP addresses to teams of lawyers. The lawyers then send out notices of DMCA infringement to universities and ISPs, and ask them to notify the user (if they can be found) to modify their behavior. A DMCA infringement notification from their legal teams usually looks something like the following:
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
503 Thompson Street, Room 3042 Fleming
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1340 US
RE: Unauthorized Distribution of the Copyrighted Television Program Entitled True Blood
Dear John King:
We are writing this letter on behalf of Home Box Office, Inc. ("HBO").
We have received information leading us to believe that an individual has utilized the below-referenced IP address at the noted date and time to offer downloads of copyrighted television program(s) through a "peer-to-peer" service, including such title(s) as:
The distribution of unauthorized copies of copyrighted television programs constitutes copyright infringement under the Copyright Act, Title 17 United States Code Section 106(3).
Since you own this IP address (192.168.1.1), we request that you immediately do the following:
1) Disable access to the individual who has engaged in the conduct described above; and/or
2) Take other appropriate action against the account holder under your Abuse Policy/Terms of Service Agreement.
On behalf of HBO, owner of the exclusive rights to the copyrighted material at issue in this notice, we hereby state, that we have a good faith belief that use of the material in themanner complained of is not authorized by HBO, its respective agents, or the law.
Also, we hereby state, under penalty of perjury, under the laws of the State of New York and under the laws of the United States, that the information in this notification is accurate and that we are authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the exclusive rights being infringed as set forth in this notification.
Please direct any end user queries to the following address:
4690 Millennium Dr.
Belcamp, MD 21017
Kindly include the Case ID 661290319, also noted above, in the subject line of all future correspondence regarding this matter.
We appreciate your assistance and thank you for your cooperation in this matter. Your prompt response is requested.
Infringing Work: True Blood
First Found: 22 Oct 2008 15:41:30 EDT (GMT -0400)
Last Found: 22 Oct 2008 15:41:30 EDT (GMT -0400)
IP Address: 126.96.36.199
IP Port: 36546
Torrent InfoHash: 5A59F014BF679645B26C188269047D110D374ED5
True.Blood.S01E01.PREAiR.DVDSCR.XviD-MEDiEVAL.avi.torrent (574,803,968 bytes)
These notifications typically are received by the ITS User Advocate, who then distributes them to the primary contacts in the University of Michigan NICR. These contacts are usually the group who maintains the machines for the departments who use that subnet and the LSA Security team. If, for some reason, you get these notices from an outside source (say directly from representatives of the copyright holder) for your network, then you should send the notices directly to the ITS User Advocate (firstname.lastname@example.org), and the LSA Security group (email@example.com). You should not directly correspond with representatives of any outside group at any time without consulting with the User Advocate.
Upon Receiving a Notification
If you have received a notice from the ITS User Advocate that an infringer exists on your network, what are your responsibilities as an IT professional at the University of Michigan? The University of Michigan asks you to do the following things:
- Assist in finding the individual who is distributing the infringing content.
- Make sure that they stop distributing the content.
- Inform them that they are in violation of the university's Terms of Service, and that they should refrain from using the University of Michigan Network in this manner at all times.
The members of the LSAIT Security Group are available as resources to help you reach a successful resolution to this process. When a DMCA notification is received, typically a member of the Security Group will begin the process by looking at the College DHCP and DNS servers to help narrow down the exact user that might be distributing infringing content, when we have access to that information. Administrators also look through the NetDisco interface (https://clerks.umnet.umich.edu/netdisco/index.html), where it is possible to determine the physical switch and port number of a machine that is plugged in to the network.
After LSA has determined all of the information that can be recovered, they will contact the IT professionals in the department and impart everything that we have learned so that they can further localize and identify the user. In some cases (especially departments that have local DHCP and DNS servers), LSA may not be able to localize this information, and it may be up to the local computer professional to determine this.
The department IT professional is responsible for getting the user to desist in the actions that caused the infringement notice to be sent out, and to inform them that they must not use the university networks to distribute content that they do not have the copyright for, as per the Terms of Service that they agreed to when they arrived at the university (as enumerated in the Standard Practice Guide 601.7).
The DMCA mandates that we make an effort to respond to all valid DMCA take-down notices within 24 hours, so be aware of this whenever you receive one of these from the User Advocate or the LSA Security Group.
Consequences of Infringing
The university currently has enumerated the sanctions for file sharing as follows:
- First time infringers receive a warning and guidance.
- Persistent infringers may lose access to their U-M accounts for some duration on a case-by-case basis, or receive some other sanction.
- University employees may be terminated or receive other sanctions.
As of this writing, neither the LSA Security Group nor the ITS User Advocate mandates that you report the name or uniqname of any infringer to either group to track them in any way. At this time, it is up to departments and their IT professionals to track repeat infringers.
Appendix: University Resources
The University has many, many resources to educate users on File Sharing and Copyright Infringement. Below is just a small sample of pages that have useful information on this topic:
- Be Aware You’re Uploading Webpage at ITS
- Copyright at the University of Michigan
- Research Guides: Copyright Basics
- Student Legal Services
- University of Michigan IT User Advocate