To all students:
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has initiated a new strategy
in pursuit of persons believed to be distributing digital copies of copyrighted
music recordings without permission. Rather than pursue their usual request
that the allegedly infringing material be removed, the RIAA is threatening
a lawsuit and offering out-of-court settlements to copyright infringers.
Last semester, the college received notice from an attorney at the RIAA that
three complaints are pending against Internet Protocol (IP) addresses connected
with computers owned by users of the Smith network. The college is only
legally obligated to preserve the name of the individual associated with the
IP address at this time. The notice makes clear that the RIAA's next
step will be to send to the college “settlement letters,” with
the request that the college forward them to the individual associated with
the specific IP address. The college will forward these letters to the individuals
The RIAA intends to bring a copyright infringement suit in federal court against
the users of these IP addresses and is seeking to settle the suits. Should
you receive one of these letters, we urge you to take it seriously and consider
seeking legal counsel. If you believe you could become a target of this
type of lawsuit you should cease all illegal activity now and consider seeking
legal counsel. The average settlement is reported in the press to be
$3,000. The minimum damages under the copyright law are $750 for each
copyrighted recording. A sample copy of a pre-settlement letter is available
Please read the sample carefully to understand what you will be asked to do
should you receive such a letter.
RIAA has developed a Web site that answers questions about settling potential
lawsuits with them: http://www.p2plawsuits.com
There are other resources on the Internet that provide other perspectives.
If the college receives a lawfully issued subpoena requesting the identity
of the owner of the computer linked to an IP address, we are legally bound
Even without the threat of being sued by RIAA, the unauthorized sharing of
copyrighted music is also a violation of the Smith
College Policy on the Acceptable Use of Computer Resources. Students who violate the College's Acceptable Use
Policy are referred to the Dean of the College and adjudicated by the College
Judicial Board according to procedures outlined in the Student Handbook. Violations
can result in the removal of computer access privileges and/or more serious
Information about Smith policies are on the Smith Web site at:
All members of the Smith community who have in the past or are continuing to
engage in unauthorized downloading, uploading, or distribution of copyrighted
materials without permission of the copyright owner should cease immediately.
The installation of software that allows you to download music may turn your
computer into a server from which others also violate copyright law. Unknowing
distribution is still illegal.
Remember you are not anonymous on the Internet. Copyright owners of sound recordings,
movies, games, software and all other forms of content have techniques they
can use to find you. If you are engaging in illegal file sharing, you should
stop. You may be putting yourself at substantial financial risk.
Vice President for Information Technology