Message to Kent State Community on Illegal Downloading of Copyrighted Materials

For Immediate Release: November 2004

Due to the increasing number of instances surrounding copyright violations that have been reported this semester (already as many as all of last year), we felt it was important to once again remind the Kent State community about the seriousness of this issue, while also clearly outlining the rights and legal responsibilities of the university and each student, faculty and staff member.

Not only have we already received as many complaints as we did for all of last year, we have also been notified by counsel for the RIAA that they will be suing a Kent State student for copyright infringement in federal court.

Copyright holders in the entertainment industry (most notably, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)) have vigorously sought compulsory legal action to enforce their property rights in recent months. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has also begun to aggressively enforce the copyrights of their members, and has recently been running full page ads in student newspapers across the country including The Daily Kent Stater.

It is illegal to download copyrighted materials (including MP3 and other music and video files) from the Internet without permission of the person owning the copyright. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) instituted in 1998, the copyright owner may bring an action in court that may result in civil liability or even criminal prosecution. In addition, Kent State University policies 3342-5-41 and 3342-5-42 requiring the responsible use of information technology; also prohibit the use of university networks for any illegal activity, including copyright infringement. These policies can be referenced at Kent State Cyber Security.

The DMCA requires an internet service provider (ISP) to act expeditiously to remove or block access to material upon receipt of a notice from a copyright holder that the material is being distributed on its network. Here at Kent State, we implement that obligation by immediately blocking network access to the alleged infringing workstation, sending a letter from the Office of University Counsel to the alleged infringer and re-establishing network access only after the alleged infringer has certified that any infringing materials have been removed and that all infringing activities will be stopped.

It is important to note that the university does not make any determination as to whether or not copyright infringement has actually occurred. If an individual violates federal copyright law, the university is not able to assist with his or her defense in any way. Any disagreement or dispute is between the individual and the copyright owner.

However, for individuals that feel unjustly accused, there are procedures established under the law to file a response, or “counter-notification” to the allegations. This process is outlined at Report Alleged Copyright Infringement.

Generally, a copyright infringement notice does not contain the name of the person responsible for the computer that contains the infringing material. The university will only provide a name if it receives a subpoena or court order. In addition, the university will attempt to contact the individual before releasing his/her name. However, the university must comply with the court’s requirements and must do so within a reasonable amount of time.

Bottom Line: It is critical that all members of the university understand the serious consequence that may result from illegal file sharing.

While there are legal ways to share files over the Internet; some artists provide their work for free and there are some services that charge a fee for legally sharing such files. The fact remains that it is your responsibility to ensure that such services provide legal access to the materials they offer.

If you have questions about this topic, please feel free to contact Paul Albert, Executive Director - Information Systems. Paul can be reached by e-mail at


[Ed Mahon's Signature]





Ed Mahon

Vice President for Information Services and CIO Kent State University