Secure Computing

Illegal File Sharing at Yale University FAQ

What is a takedown or DMCA Notice?

Takedown or DMCA Notices are the most common type of copyright infringement notices that the University receives. Content owners such as the RIAA and MPAA send these notices to the ISP from which the file was made available and request that Yale forward them to the alleged infringers. When as ISP receives a valid takedown notice, it is obligated to takedown or disable the infringing content on the network.

How does the University handle takedown notices against undergraduate students?

If you receive a takedown notice, Yale requires that you cease any infringing activity and that you certify that you will refrain from any such activity in the future. However, your compliance with Yale's takedown procedure does not shield you from potential liability to third parties, who retain the right to sue the user at issue for copyright infringement.

First Notice

The student and his/her Dean and Master are forwarded the original. The student is required to:

  1. Confirm that the copyrighted material has been removed, access disabled and that the material will remain off the network;
  2. Confirm that he/she will cease any other use of the network in violation of law and the ITAUP;
  3. Provide a printed copy of the ITAUP with his/her signature to confirm that he/she has read and agrees to abide by the University's terms and conditions for network access.
Second Notice

The student and his/her Dean and Master are forwarded the original complaint and the student's network access is disabled within 24 hours. The student is required to meet with his/her Dean to discuss network policy and complete the following:

  1. Confirm that the copyrighted material has been removed, access disabled and that the material will remain off the network;
  2. Confirm that he/she will cease any other use of the network in violation of law and the ITAUP;
  3. Provide a printed copy of the ITAUP with his/her signature and his/her Dean's signature to confirm that they have had a discussion about network policy and that he/she has read and agrees to abide by the University's terms and conditions for network access.
Subsequent Notices

Subsequent notices are forwarded to the Yale College Dean's Office Executive Committee—the standing committee of the Yale College Faculty for matters of undergraduate discipline. The student and his/her Dean and Master are forwarded the original complaint and are notified that the case will be sent to the YCDO for further action.

What happens if I don't acknowledge the notice or comply with ITS' requests?

If you don't acknowledge receipt of an infringement notice in a timely manner, your network access may be suspended.

If I comply with all of the University's requests, am I protected from further action against me?

Even if you comply fully with the University's takedown procedure, copyright infringers are not shielded form potential liability from third parties like the RIAA, who retain the right to sue you for the underlying infringing activity. However, if you delete any peer-to-peer file-sharing software from your computer and ensure that you are no longer distributing copyrighted materials, you help protect yourself from receiving notices about future infringing activity.

What is a Preservation Notice?

Content owners sometimes send preservation notices to Yale requesting that Yale preserve contact information of the persons associated with IP addresses alleged to have infringed their copyrighted works. Yale will generally comply with such notices; however, Yale will not release the contact information based on the preservation letter alone. Preservation notices are often followed by early settlement letters (see below).

What is an Early Settlement Letter?

Content owners send campus ISPs such as Yale "Early Settlement Letters" to be forwarded to the persons associated with IP addresses alleged to have infringed their copyrighted works. The early settlement letter advises the user that he or she may soon be subject to a lawsuit in connection with the allegedly infringing activity, provides a sample of the material that the user allegedly infringed, and suggests that user consider settling the claim to avoid the content owner filing their claims in court (the "Early Settlement Letter" includes a link to a settlement website where a credit card payment can be made ).

What if I do not want to settle with the content owner after receiving an Early Settlement Letter?

When you receive an Early Settlement Letter, you may wish to seek the advice of an attorney. If you do not want to settle with the content owner, the content owner is likely to sue you. Additionally, they will issue a subpoena to Yale requesting the disclosure of your name and identifying information. The University's Office of the General Counsel does not represent students, so you will need to seek independent legal representation. If you or your family has a trusted attorney, you may wish to seek their advice.

How does Yale respond to subpoenas from the content owner?

If served with a valid subpoena from the content owner, the University will comply with the subpoena and provide the requested information.

I didn't personally upload any copyrighted materials. Am I still responsible?

You are responsible for any violation that occurs using your registered network addresses. This includes any downloading that occurs on a wireless router that you have registered on the University network or activity using a VPN connection to the Yale network.

More details:

The University's Information Technology Appropriate Use Policy section 1607.1.E "Personal Account Responsibility" states that "users are presumed to be responsible for any activity carried out under their IT Systems accounts..." If Yale receives a complaint based on such activity, you will be required to comply with Yale policy. If you have a wireless access point, you need to change the password on your device so that only you know it (or perform MAC address filtering so that only you can gain access to the network through your router). Otherwise, you may receive copyright infringement notices as a result of activities that others are carrying out under your registered address.

 

I bought those songs legally using iTunes (or similar software). Why am I receiving a complaint?

Even if you have legally purchased a copyrighted work, it is still a violation of copyright law to distribute it to others without the content owner's permission. If you are making the works available for downloading (whether knowingly or not), you may receive an infringement notice or be subject to other legal action based on the copyright holder claims that you are allowing other people to download their material.

How can I be sure that I am not sharing copyrighted works on my computer with others?

By default, P2P file-sharing applications enable uploading of files from your computer to others. To stop uploading, you either have to remove the P2P application from your computer, locate and change the options that control uploading in the application, or disconnect the computer from the network. Even after you have disabled uploading on a P2P application, a software update or other resetting mechanism may reset your preferences to resume uploading. You can reduce this risk by monitoring your use of the software, learning about the underlying technology, and familiarizing yourself with the laws that govern your use of these applications. If you want to be certain that you are not distributing copyright files over the Internet and campus network contact ITS Student Computing for assistance in removing the P2P software application.