Friday, October 30, 2009

Brooklyn Law School backs down; will not voluntarily investigate & "name names"

Brooklyn Law School has modified the position it took the other day, in which it had indicated it was going to actively investigate who may have been downloading MPAA movies or shows, and turn over the names for "enforcement" purposes. It sent out the following email a day later:

From: Announcements On Behalf Of Phil Allred
Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2009 12:08 PM
To: All Users
Subject: [BLS] Update on illegal downloads e-mail notice

Yesterday, I sent out an e-mail regarding the recent spate of abuse notices we have received from our Internet service provider. Under our contract, users are prohibited from downloading copyrighted works. If we knowingly allow such activity to continue without taking action, we risk losing access to the Internet. When we can ascertain the people who are responsible for alleged illegal downloads, we will notify them to cease such activity. We will comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ( ). Outside of the legal process, we are not obligated to turn over the names of the alleged infringers to copyright holders and will not do so.

Commentary & discussion:

Keywords: lawyer digital copyright law online internet law legal download upload peer to peer p2p file sharing filesharing music movies indie independent label freeculture creative commons pop/rock artists riaa independent mp3 cd favorite songs intellectual property portable music player


Lior said...

Under our contract, users are prohibited from downloading copyrighted works.

This is patently false. For example, reading this very blog involved "downloading copyrighted works", to wit the writings of Mr. Beckerman.

derivative said...


Looks like my crystal ball was working OK when I predicted this...

Matt Fitzpatrick said...

Whew. There's hope yet.

Though I do wonder where a law school's CIO even got the odd notion that he was obligated to name names to copyright holders? Certainly not from any of the textbooks circulating around campus. Could this be a sign of some MPAA letter-writing campaign, making distorted legal claims in correspondence to colleges?

derivative said...

I think, as I posted in my comment on the original article, that the CIO just figured that if he put the fear of God into the students, his bandwidth costs would be slashed.

Now, obviously a letter from the xxAA could help the CIO start thinking along those lines. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if correspondence from the xxAA to the IT department actually suggested that striking terror in the student population is good for cost containment. That's the sort of mendacious behavior we have come to expect -- the xxAA reminds me of a few individuals I have known whom I characterize as "clever, but not smart."

But however it came down, in order to author that letter, the CIO didn't need to feel that he was "obligated to name names," just that threatening to name names was actually in his best interest.

Of course, that shows a certain lack of longer-term critical thinking skills, which places the CIO himself squarely into my "clever, but not smart" category (unless, of course, the xxAA laid it all out for him in a letter documenting how much he could save by instituting this policy, in which case the CIO is firmly back in my "not clever or smart" category).

quietlyconfident said...

Without actually knowing what happened in this instance, but making educated guesses based on some knowledge of the persons involved and the political structure of the institution...

It seems unlikely to me that the CIO would make decisions of this sort unilaterally, to say nothing of this decision in particular. He is possibly more informed about the DMCA than many of the faculty.

More likely to me is a scenario where, there was a "tech" meeting at which one of the Deans were present and either suggested or gave the thumbs up on the crackdown.

Anonymous said...

And here it seems Mr. Allred is still mistaken. The ISP is somewhat responsible for dealing with particular infringing activity, not general belief that such activity is occurring, IIRC.

The parallel is YouTube -- just because YouTube knows that some percent of its users will upload songs in violation of copyright law does not make YouTube liable for it.