by Pat Falcon,
IT Security Policy & Communications Coordinator, CIS
©opyright @ Brown
Copyright complaints at Brown are on the rise. Copyright holders, such as the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) and Universal Studios, have been busy sending warning letters to members of the Brown community. There were almost 200 complaints during the last two months of 2006, compared to less than 25 for the same period in 2005. If you engage in illegal file-sharing, the odds of getting caught are not in your favor.
Whether due to an upsurge of illegal downloading or more zealous detection techniques,
the consequences for copyright infringement remain the same and can be quite serious. In a civil action, you could be liable for either actual damages or statutory damages up to $30,000 ($150,000 if the infringement is willful).
Criminal prosecution can result in penalties of up to 10 years in prison.
You should also be aware that Brown is required by law1 to take prompt action to ensure that any illegal materials have been removed. This will mean, at a minimum, a loss of Internet access.
For first infractions, students must remove the infringing material from their computers and notify CIS that this action has been taken before Internet access will be reinstated. A report about the violation of copyright will be sent by CIS to the Office of Student Life.
Second violators will lose their privileges to access the Internet from their personal computers for four weeks and may be subject to further disciplinary action.
Any subsequent violations will mean the loss of Internet access from your personal computer for a semester and may result in additional action taken within the university's disciplinary process.
Faculty and Staff
For first infractions, the infringing material must be removed from the computer before Internet access will be reinstated, plus:
- For staff, a report about the violation of copyright will be sent by CIS to the appropriate senior administrator and Human Resources
- For a faculty member or post doctoral fellow, a copy is forwarded to the department chair, the Dean of Faculty or to the
Dean of Medicine & Biological Sciences, and to Brown's DMCA Agent.
A warning letter will be generated and the individual will be asked not to repeat the behavior that resulted in the complaint. A copy of that letter will be kept in the individual’s file, and a copy will also go to Brown’s DMCA Agent.
Should there be a second instance of copyright infringement, the University's Office of General Counsel is also notified
of the infringement and a meeting with relevant administrators is held to determine the action(s) to be taken.
To stay within the law and avoid any disruption of your Internet access, think before you illegally download. For staff and faculty, be a good steward of any resources that may have been entrusted to you,
which include your Internet access and workstation, and use them only in the support of the educational, instructional, research, and
administrative activities of the University.
Brown's Copyright Infringement Policy provides a good overview of copyright law and the illegal use of file sharing programs,
plus examples of activities that violate federal law, and procedures for handling violations. The Copyright and Fair Use web site also provides a wealth of
information that includes a list of resources, a fair use checklist and glossary.
Should you have any questions about the policy, contact us at ITPolicy@brown.edu.
Brown's Copyright Infringement Policy
Brown's Copyright & Fair Use Policy
Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DCMA) (see Title II, § 512)
DCMA: U.S. Copyright Office Summary
Library of Congress overview of DMCA & Copyright
1 The DMCA, signed into law in 1998, provides non-profit educational institutions with some protections if individual members of the community violate the law. For Brown University to maintain this protection, any infringing material must be expeditiously removed, or access to it blocked, whenever it is brought to Brown's attention, and whether or not the individual who is infringing has received notice.