Computing & Information Services

Reed Response to
Claims of Copyright Infringement
and Pre-Litigation Letters

approved by the Computing Policy Committee October 2, 2012

When Reed receives a copyright infringement claim involving music, video, software, or other digital materials, it takes the following steps under the 1998 federal statute known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or DMCA:

  • we check network usage logs and registration information to examine the system alleged to be involved in copyright infringement and we identify the person using it;
  • we block Internet access for the user's IP address;
  • we notify the copyright holder (or agent) that we are handling the infringement claim under the guidelines of the DMCA;
  • we DO NOT disclose the user's identity;
  • we request a meeting with the user, to inform them of the claim of infringement and to ask if the copyrighted material in question has been downloaded or shared without permission. Until this meeting occurs, Internet access will remain blocked.

First-Time Offenses

If the user acknowledges using the copyrighted material without permission, we:

  • require the user to read the Computer User Agreement and to review information about the DMCA statute and copyright regulations;
  • require the user to submit a statement: (a) confirming the copyright infringement, (b) acknowledging violation of the Computer User Agreement, and (c) promising not to repeat this behavior;
  • block Internet access for the user's IP address for five days;
  • inform the claimant that the matter has been resolved.

If the user denies using the copyrighted material without permission, we:

  • require the user to submit a statement denying the copyright infringement claim;
  • restore Internet access for the user's IP address;
  • inform the claimant that the claim has been denied;
  • under the DMCA, the claimant may pursue a subpoena to obtain the identity of the system user and may file a lawsuit against the user.
If the user is an employee, alumni or guest of the college, alternative or additional actions may be taken a the discretion of the Chief Information Officer.

Second-Time Offenses

If the user acknowledges a second instance of using copyrighted material without permission, we:

  • require the user to re-read the Computer User Agreement and to review information about the DMCA statute and copyright regulations;
  • require the user to submit a statement: (a) confirming the second case of copyright infringement, (b) acknowledging violation of the Computer User Agreement and his/her promise not to repeat this behavior, and (c) recognizing that any further violations will result in an Honor Case and other actions as the College may deem appropriate;
  • deny the user's IP address access to the campus network for five days and block Internet access for a period not to exceed 120 days;
  • inform the Dean of Students of the actions taken;
  • inform the claimant that the matter has been resolved.
If the user is an employee, alumni or guest of the college, alternative or additional actions may be taken at the discretion of the Chief Information Officer.

    Pre-Litigation Letters

    In February 2007, the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) announced a new strategy for dealing with suspected instances of copyright infringement.  The RIAA and other organizations are sending "settlement letters" to colleges indicating their intention to sue users of systems engaged in illegal file sharing and asking colleges to forward those letters to users.  Hundreds of these letters have been sent already.  A sample settlement letter can be found at:    http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/CSD4832.pdf

    The letters inform users that they can avoid lawsuits by immediately making contact and paying settlement fees.  If users decline to do this, subpoenas will be sought to require colleges to disclose users' identities.  Lawsuits will then be filed.  Users may, at that time, avoid a lawsuit by paying settlement fees larger than the original settlement amount.  If users again decline, lawsuits will be pursued to obtain damages and recover legal fees.

    In the event that Reed receives a settlement letter, the College will:

    • treat the letter as a DMCA copyright infringement claim and respond as per the DMCA response guidelines;
    • forward the pre-litigation letter to the system user;
    • Reed will not disclose the identity of a system user unless presented with a subpoena or other legally valid writ.

    More information about copyright and legal issues is available at:

    http://web.reed.edu/cis/help/copyright