illustration of a student about to download information from
Aimster.com, a Web site where audio files can be retrieved.
Music downloads draw virtual
you share copyrighted music over a peer-to-peer network, a virtual
cop could come knocking on the Universitys door.
is one of several universities receiving notices from NetPD, a
London-based company warning that students have been stealing
and distributing copyrighted music. The music is distributed on
peer-to-peer file-sharing networks, such as Gnutella or Aimster,
in which students seek out a piece of music, download it onto
their machines and, from there, it is available for other people
Thomas B. Nachbar, who teaches contract law, copyrights and regulation
of new media at the Law
School, said students violate copyright laws when they copy
music without permission. He said there is a sketchy
defense in cases where the students already own a copy of a song
and duplicate it to another format.
infringements can be criminal or civil and there need not be a
profit factor, he said, noting that if a person copies more than
$1,000 in copyrighted material, he or she has committed a criminal
offense, even if receiving no remuneration for them.
said copyright holders can grant permission to copy and distribute
their work, as in the case of unknown bands that post songs to
gain an audience.
getting on the scale of 10 to 20 incident reports a day [from
NetPD], said Robert F. Chip German Jr., director
of policy and strategic planning at ITC
and a member of the Universitys Technology Abuse team. One
year ago, we were getting no complaints from NetPD and a declining
number from RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America),
that were two or three a month at their peak.
which represents Sony Music Entertainment Inc., apparently goes
online and locates music available in file- sharing networks,
then notifies the server that there is a copyright violation.
On a recent day, German received one message claiming 32 infringements
at eight separate computer addresses, all citing songs by Michael
Jackson and Incubus.
turns the complaints over to the Dean
of Students office, which notifies the student, strongly advising
him or her to abstain from any infringing activity, and advising
the student to review the Universitys policy on copyrights.
Jokl, director of communications for ITC, said there are many
valid reasons for students to use peer-to-peer networks, and unfortunately
some of them use it for illegal activities, such as copying music.
By downloading file-sharing software from the Internet, students
can make the music they download available to others with the
same software, but there are usually protocols in some of the
software to limit access.
schools disable the networks, German said, but U.Va. will not
be doing that. He said the University has an educational mission
to help students understand copyright laws and U.Va. policies.,
as well as how to configure their computers so files are not available
Hall, chair of the U.Va. honor committee, said students do not
consider music downloads an honor offense.
speaking, the consensus of the student body is that it is not
serious, Hall said.
have to follow the law, said Pablo Davis, assistant dean
of students and a member of the Universitys Technology Abuse
Team. Sony could file suit against individuals.
NetPD can only supply a computer address, ITC in many cases can
trace that computer to a person. Davis said he understood that
the University would have to turn over the names of students if
there is a suit.
Davis said NetPD has so far asked only that the infringement stop.
We are asking for your immediate assistance in stopping
this unauthorized activity, the NetPD letter to U.Va. states.
Specifically we request that you remove the site or delete
the infringing sound files or that you disable access to this
site or the infringing files being offered via your system. In
addition, please inform the site operator of the illegality of
his or her conduct and confirm with us, in writing, that this
activity has ceased.
invokes the law in its notice. Under the Digital Millennium
Copyright Act, if you ignore this notice, you and/or your company
may be liable for any resulting infringement.
said the University does not recognize the NetPD letter as a formal
notification under the DMCA.
said the act provides a safe harbor for service providers, with
the University and ITC considered a pipe through which information
flows. If there is valid and formal notice that the pipe is being
used for illegal activity, such as copyright infringement, then
the University is obligated to shut down or disable the offending