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No Answer From MIT to RIAA Subpoena
By Jon Newton, p2pnet.net
(more articles from this author)
2003-08-12
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"My advice to people who are using KaZaA for sharing copyrighted files is, Now would be a good time to stop," Jeffrey Schiller, MIT's network manager, warns.

His comment was addressed to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) students in an August 6 The Tech item by news and features director Keith Winstein here.

Winstein's story said MIT hasn't yet responded to the RIAA subpoena ordering it to reveal the name of 'crazyface,' a network user who on June 27 was said to have used Kazaa to offer, "hundreds of copyrighted works to the world-at-large" from IP 18.237.0.70.

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The address, assigned by MIT to the Theta Delta Chi fraternity, is given to individual users automatically and dynamically by a computer run by the fraternity, said James D. Bruce, the vice president for information systems, "so MIT could not initially identify the user or even the computer's owner."

Last month MIT said it would try to invalidate RIAA subpoenas and at the time, RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy, "vowed legal action to obtain the information" and said, "These universities have chosen to litigate this in an attempt to deny copyright holders the right so clearly granted in Congress."

But, "MIT has emphasized that it will release the name of the user - if MIT in fact has the name of the user - if the RIAA sends MIT a subpoena signed by the clerk of the federal district court in Boston giving MIT enough time to respond," says the story.

In RIAA Sues MIT, Seeks Name of Music Sharer, Winstein says, "As part of the DMCA's subpoena procedure, a copyright owner must obtain the signature of a clerk of a federal district court. MIT and Boston College have asserted in motions filed in Boston against the RIAA that the court whose clerk signed the RIAA's subpoenas - the federal district court in Washington, D.C. - did not have jurisdiction over the schools in Massachusetts, making the subpoenas invalid.

"Because the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, known as FERPA, requires that a school only release student 'education records' in response to a 'lawfully issued subpoena,' MIT and Boston College argue they are barred from voluntarily releasing a student's name in response to subpoenas they say are invalid, and that any subpoena must give the schools enough time - a few days - to notify a student that their records will be disclosed and give the student a chance to contest the release of information.

"In a response to the MIT and BC motions in Boston, and in four separate lawsuits filed in Washington against the schools, the RIAA argues that the DMCA grants the Washington court jurisdiction to issue a subpoena to the schools, that students have had plenty of time to be notified, and that the names of students with particular IP addresses are not 'education records' under FERPA."

MIT now plans to revise its agreements with fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups - for whom it provides free high-speed Internet access - "to say that they will need to provide us the logs on reasonable demand," The Tech quotes Bruce as saying.

"I believe that the decision of whether we should change the fundamental architecture of our network so we can always know who's using it, which may, by the way, add significant burden ... that's a decision the community has to make," said Schiller. "I think that's a community decision and should be made that way."

He said, MIT believes in protecting the privacy of students and, "we don't yield information willy-nilly, but the bottom line is ... we can't necessarily protect the identities of our students when they engage in illegal file sharing."

RIAA spokeswoman Amy Weiss is quoted as saying, "Nobody is above the law, whether they're a student or a grandparent. If they're breaking the law, they're breaking the law."


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