MIT has recently received notification from the Recording Industry Association of America that music companies intend to file a so-called "John Doe lawsuit" against approximately two dozen unnamed individuals. The RIAA alleges these individuals are illegally uploading copyrighted music from certain IP addresses using an MIT server.
Notices received in the last few days advise MIT that music companies will seek to serve subpoenas on MIT requiring the Institute to disclose the names of individuals assigned those IP addresses. The notices advise MIT that it will not be named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
These recent notices follow earlier ones from the RIAA about individual IP addresses at MIT that allegedly had been used to upload music illegally. When MIT was able to determine who was assigned those IP addresses, MIT forwarded those individuals the RIAA notices, pointing out that the notices told the individuals to preserve any evidence that would be sought in the later lawsuit. MIT suggested that the users consider retaining their own lawyers.
The Institute complies with copyright laws and expects its faculty, staff and students to comply as well. MIT responds to all valid subpoenas, as required by law, and will respond as legally required to such subpoenas in the RIAA lawsuits, if and when they are issued to MIT.
MIT educates its students about appropriate use of MIT's network through a variety of programs, including a series of well-attended seminars, pamphlets, and pages on its Information Services and Technology web site. The vast majority of the MIT community uses the MIT network appropriately. "Our approach is not to act as an arm of law enforcement, but to act as an educational institution, which we are," said Jerrold Grochow, vice president for Information Services and Technology at MIT.