RIAA Set to Subpoena College

The Recording Industry Association of America will shortly subpoena the College for the identity of students it believes illegally share copyrighted music over the Dartmouth network. The RIAA might then sue these students for copyright violations.

Robert Donin, the College’s chief counsel, announced the subpoenas this morning in an email to administrators.

Date: 02 Feb 2005 09:08:52 EST

From: Robert B. Donin

Subject: RIAA Subpoenas to Identify Illegal File Sharers

February 2, 2005

TO: President’s Executive Committee

I am writing to alert you — and to encourage you to alert others in your Schools and departments — that the Recording Industry Association of America, Inc. (“RIAA”) has informed us that it intends to subpoena the names of certain members of the Dartmouth community suspected of engaging in illegal file-sharing of copyrighted music via the College computer network. Specifically, during the past several weeks, we have received letters from the RIAA concerning six instances of alleged copyright infringement involving Internet addresses traced to Dartmouth network users. RIAA has notified us that it will soon serve subpoenas requiring the College to produce the names and other contact information that correspond to these Internet addresses. Assuming the subpoenas are legally sufficient, the College will be required to produce this information. Once the RIAA has identified these individuals, it may file lawsuits against them for copyright infringement.

The forthcoming subpoenas to Dartmouth are part of a nationwide campaign by the RIAA to discourage illegal file-sharing. In the past 15 months, RIAA has filed more than 6,000 lawsuits against individuals suspected of illegal file-sharing. These suits include actions against students, faculty and staff members at dozens of colleges and universities. The Motion Picture Association recently commenced a similar campaign. While the odds of any individual being sued are small, the consequences are serious. Unauthorized reproduction and distribution of commercial copyrighted music, movies and games is a violation of federal copyright law and College policy. Persons found to have infringed may be held liable for substantial damages and attorneys fees. The law entitles a plaintiff to seek statutory damages of $150,000 for each act of willful infringement (although most of these cases have been settled for amounts in the $3,000 – $15,000 range). Copyright infringement also carries criminal penalties. Depending on the number and value of the products exchanged, penalties for a first offense may be as high as three years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Copyright infringement can also result in College disciplinary action.

Further information is contained in the College’s web site on Peer-to-Peer File Sharing and Copyright Law: http://www.dartmouth.edu/copyright/peer2peer/ This web site includes information on how music and movies can be obtained legally through online services.

I encourage you to share this information with your students, faculty and staff members. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you.



Robert B. Donin

General Counsel

Dartmouth College

14 South Main Street, Suite 2C

Hanover, New Hampshire 03755

Tel. (603) 646-0101

Fax (603) 646-2447