RIAA Letter to Students & Employees

An open letter to students and employees of the University:

I am writing to remind you that the distribution of copyright material you do not own and distribution of copyright material over the lnternet are potential violations of both criminal and civil federal law, as well as UIW policy. With recent actions by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to target and prosecute individual users who appear to be violating copyright laws, it’s important that you know the ‘rules” and understand the potential consequences if you choose to break them.

Copyright material can include movies, television shows, music, games or software. Some software programs, like Bit Torrent, “distribute” such material automatically when outbound functions are on and your computer is hooked up to the Internet. Therefore, even if you have legally purchased a copy of material, for example on CD or DVD, loaded it on your computer and run one of these systems, you may be in violation of law for “distributing” it out to the lnternet. The RlAA has begun targeting individual users through the issuance of “settlement letters”. These letters are sent to the campus lnternet Service Providers (ISP) with lnternet Protocol addresses of alleged offenders. The settlement letters request that the ISP forward the letters to users whom they allege have infringed upon RlAA copyrights.

In addition to these “settlement letters,” the RlAA has also sent a number of “preservation notices” to colleges and universities, requesting that the ISP preserve contact information for persons associated with an lnternet Protocol address they allege is being used to violate their copyrights.

As your main campus ISP, UIW will treat RlAA “settlement letters” and “preservation notices” in the following manner:

  • Settlement Letters. If UIW receives a RIM “settlement letter,” we will forward the letter to the affected employee or student so long as we are able to identify that person by IP address and feel legally certain that the RIM letter meets the requirements of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Unless served with a proper subpoena, however, UIW will not release the name of the employee or student to the RlAA or any similar entity.
  • Preservation Notices. If UIW receives a “preservation letter,” which requests the holding of basic contact information for the individual, we will preserve the requested information and forward the letter to the user for his or her information. Again, unless served with a proper subpoena, UIW will not release the name of the employee or student to the RlAA or any similar entity based on the preservation notice alone. We should also note that, in addition to the RlAA letters we have mentioned here, content owners may send us “cease and desist” letters that allege that employees and students – may be sharing videos, movies, games and software illegally. Those who do choose to infringe copyright may want to reconsider that activity in light of the now-pervasive monitoring of file sharing that content owners do on the Internet. UIW expects all members of its community to use electronic communications in a responsible manner. Under the DMCA, UIW is permitted to immediately take down any infringing site on the UIW network, and block access to any infringing sites on other networks, upan proper notice from the copyright owner or upon actual knowledge of infringement.

Copyright is a national issue as well as a concern for employees who enjoy entertainment protected by intellectual property legislation. If you wish to learn more about the

DMCA and these important issues, please refer to: http://www.copyright.gov/onlinesp

If you have specific questions about this letter, please feel free to contact me at cvnthiae@2uiwtx.edu. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Cynthia Escamilla
General Counsel
April 4, 2007

Comments are closed.