Copyright Enforcement Activities

The RIAA and other content owners are aggressively trying to stop unauthorized downloading, copying, and sharing of music and videos. They monitor the Internet continually to identify Internet Protocol (IP) addresses involved in these activities, but they require assistance from the Internet Service Providers (ISP) to communicate with alleged infringers.

They generally seek the ISPs help in communicating one or more of the following:

  • DMCA Takedown Notices

    When the RIAA or content owner determines that an IP address has been used to violate its copyright, they send a Takedown Notice to the ISP describing the IP address, date, time and material involved in the alleged infringement. The Takedown Notice requests that the ISP remove, unlink or disable access to the listed material under the terms of the DMCA.

    Upon receipt of a Takedown Notice, Lamar University reviews network activity records to independently validate the legitimacy of the alleged infringement. If the infringement appears valid, Lamar University suspends the identified computer’s network access or Internet access until the infringing material is removed.

    The computer’s user is identified when possible. The computer’s network access is restored once proof of removal is provided and an acknowledgement of the infringement is signed by the user. If the user is a student, they are referred to the Vice President of Student Affairs for additional sanctions, up to and including expulsion from Lamar University.

    Lamar University also notifies the sender of the Takedown Notice that either appropriate removal actions have been taken, or the allegation could not be validated through network activity records. Lamar University does not provide any user-identifying information to the sender of the Takedown Notice without a lawfully issued subpoena. Likewise, Lamar University does not forward a copy of the Takedown Notice to the alleged infringer.

  • Preservation Requests

    Preservation Requests are used to notify the ISP that a subpoena may be served on the ISP seeking identifying information about a network user who has allegedly infringed a content owner’s copyrighted material. Like the Takedown Notice, the Preservation Request identifies an alleged infringer's IP address at the time of the alleged infringement.

    The Preservation Request asks the ISP to preserve the identifying information of the user connected via that IP address at that time.

    Lamar University’s practice is to first determine if the information provided in the Preservation Request is sufficient to identify the specific user. If not, Lamar University notifies the requesting party of its inability to comply. If the specific user is identified, the University preserves the information as requested for up to 90 days.

    Lamar University will forward the Preservation Request to that specific user via email only if specified by the requesting party. The cover email explains the nature of the Preservation Request, encourages the specific user to preserve evidence relating to the claims in the Preservation Request, and informs them that they may wish to obtain legal advice before taking any other action.

    Lamar University will not release a user’s identifying information in response to a Preservation Request without a lawfully issued subpoena.

    Example Preservation Request (PDF)

  • Pre-Litigation Settlement Letters

    Prior to abandoning the “sue the customer” strategy, the RIAA’s outside legal counsel sent what were known as "Pre-Litigation Settlement Letters" to many universities and ISPs. The Settlement Letter was generally sent to the ISP with a request that the letter be forwarded to the user of the particular IP address.

    The letter alleged that the user of the particular IP address had violated copyright laws and presented an opportunity to settle the claim as early as possible at a "significantly reduced amount" compared to the judgment that a court might impose at the end of a lawsuit. The letter also informed the user to preserve evidence relating to the claims and instructed the user to retain, and not delete, any peer-to-peer programs.

    Should the RIAA or content owner resurrect lawsuits and settlement letters, Lamar University’s practice is to forward the Settlement Letter along with an explanation to the user if the University’s network activity logs can establish the identity of the person at the specified IP address with a reasonable degree of certainty.

    Because network logs can be unavailable or inconclusive, Lamar University cannot guarantee that all Settlement Letters will be forwarded to the user; therefore, individuals should not expect to receive such a letter prior to being sued for copyright infringement. Based on the wording in recent Settlement Letters, users must settle within the time specified or face a lawsuit. Users are encouraged to seek legal counsel before taking any action.

    Example Pre-Litigation Settlement Letter (PDF)

  • Lawsuits and Subpoenas

    In cases where a settlement cannot be reached, the RIAA and member companies have been filing lawsuits in Federal District Courts. The suits alleged that unnamed users have infringed copyrights by downloading certain information and, for some, distributing the information to others over the Internet.

    After filing these "John Doe" lawsuits (so named because they name IP addresses rather than people) identifying IP addresses, the companies served subpoenas on universities seeking the identity of the users associated with those IP addresses.

    If and when Lamar University receives such a subpoena, Lamar University first ensures that the subpoena is valid and lawful. If so, and if the information sought in the subpoena exists, Lamar University is legally required to provide the requested information.

    While complying with the subpoena, Lamar University notifies the user being identified in the subpoena.

Note: These four communications operate independently and do not necessarily progress from one to another.

For example, nothing prevents the initial communication from being a subpoena that seeks the identity of an alleged infringer connected at a specific IP address at a specific day and time.