When an enforcement agent representing the entertainment industry (RIAA, MPAA, HBO, etc.) believes it has identified an instance of the illegal sharing of copyrighted information (typically files containing music or videos) it sends the University a notification. These notifications typically come in one of four forms although all are of similar format.
The format is a letter, electronic or U.S. Mail, that contains the network address of the computer involved in the alleged violation, software being used to share the files, and list (or partial list) of the infringing works. The four types of notifications we've received in the past are:
- DMCA notice. The university is required to put a stop to the sharing if legal authorization does not exist, and to remove any infringing works from the cited computer.
- Preservations notice. This notification asks the university to take measures to preserve the infringing material on the computer. No other action is required. This would typically be in preparation for further action by the entertainment industry such as a Settlement offer or an actual Subpoena. Speculation is that the industry is becoming backlogged with the legal process and this is a response to that.
- Settlement Offer. This has been a more recent development. The university receives a settlement offer for the owner of the computer. Its approach is to essential say that if the person will clean off all the infringing material, and promise no longer share copyrighted material, the will settle with the person for a reduced fine. The university makes every reasonable effort to pass these notices on to the alleged infringer, though the university is not legally required to do so.
- Subpoena. This is a legal writ requiring the university to turn over the identifying information on the alleged infringer (name, address, telephone number, and email address.) The university will comply if we are served a valid subpoena.
In the case of notifications 1-3 the university shares no information regarding the person with the industry's enforcing agent. As mentioned with a subpoena, Santa Clara will share whatever is legally required by the subpoena.