Many members of the Whitman community have questions about their rights and responsibilities with respect to use of copyrighted material, particularly the sharing of music and movies in digital format over the Internet. This document provides an overview of Whitman’s policies and procedures governing music and movie sharing and how we deal with alleged violations. Recent legal actions by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) against violators of music copyright have made it imperative that everyone understand the risks of their behavior when sharing music and movies with others.
The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material regardless of the format of that material. Copyright law is complicated and its interpretation is sometimes controversial. More information can be found on our Copyright at Whitman web site.
Peer-to-Peer Programs (P2P)
Spurred on by the widespread use of the Internet, P2P programs have been developed to allow people to share information in digital formats. In particular, programs like KaZaA, Gnutella, Morpheus, AudioGalaxy and others are commonly used to share music and movies without regard to the restrictions placed on that material by the copyright owners. Most commercially produced music and movies are copyrighted and cannot be freely shared. This is the law.
Whitman does not examine the information content that is being transmitted (e.g. the music itself) but does monitor the type of information (e.g., that is an MP3 file) in order for us to give priority to academic uses of our network. Members of our community must follow college-defined policies for appropriate use of technology resources. The details of the Whitman’s IT policies and procedures can be found on our Policies page.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
The DMCA specifies procedures that Whitman must follow when notified that an individual using our network is violating copyright laws. If the copyright holder contacts Whitman about a violation we will stop network access for the individual, notify him/her of the notice we have received, and require removal of the offending material from his/her computer. The individual has the right to claim that the material is not protected by copyright and then a legal process begins. To date, every notice we have received has resulted in the offending material being removed. The details about the DMCA procedures can be found on our DMCA Notification and Whitman Response to Claims of Copyright Infringement web pages.
Because of functionality built into file-sharing software resident on your computer, your audio and video files may be available for uploading over the Internet without your knowledge or permission. For additional information on downloading and filesharing issues check out these resources: EDUCAUSE and MusicUnited. Also a useful resource is the U.S. Senate hearing on this issue entitled, Privacy & Piracy: The Paradox of Illegal File Sharing on Peer-to-Peer Networks and the Impact of Technology on the Entertainment Industry.