Who else got the "DO NOT DOWNLOAD ANYTHING" letter?
This message is being sent to all students with approval from the Office of the
Vice Provost for Student Life.
I am writing to inform you of a development that could become a serious issue
for some of our students--the law governing downloading and sharing of music and
video from the internet. Under copyright law, it is illegal to download or share
copyrighted materials such as music or movies without the permission of the
copyright owner. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in recent
years has taken an aggressive approach to stopping this illegal downloading and
file sharing. This has put many students at the nation's colleges and
universities at some legal risk. I write first to caution you against illegally
downloading or sharing files. Your actions when you do so are traceable and
could result in a significant financial penalty to you. Second, I want to inform
you about a new process the RIAA has initiated and the University's role in this
The RIAA is now sending colleges and universities a letter for each instance
they find of a student illegally downloading material from the internet and
requesting the university to identify the individual student and forward the
letter to him or her. The letter, called an "Early Settlement Letter" notifies
the student that he or she has 20 days to settle with the RIAA by going to a
designated website, entering identifying information, and paying a set amount,
usually between $3,000 and $5,000, but sometimes considerably more. If the
recipient chooses not to settle, the RIAA will file a lawsuit and the offer to
settle for the amount stipulated is no longer an option.
The University has been notified by the RIAA that we will be receiving a number
of these early settlement letters. After careful consideration, we have decided
to forward the letters to the alleged copyright violators. We do so primarily
because we believe students should have the opportunity to avail themselves of
the settlement option if they so choose. Not forwarding the RIAA letter to
students could result in their being served with a lawsuit, with no chance to
settle it beforehand.
The University is unable to provide legal services to students who have
violated copyright law through illegal downloading or sharing. If you receive a
letter from the RIAA, we encourage you to engage a personal attorney. If you
have questions, please let us know.
We know how tempting it is to download music or movies and share files with
your friends. But you need to know that it is illegal to do so and that the
consequences can be severe. Please inform yourself of the requirements of the
law and please obey it. Otherwise, it may prove costly for you and your family.
Eric S. Godfrey
Vice Provost for Student Life