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MIT responds to RIAA subpoena

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--Professor James Bruce, Vice President for Information Systems at MIT, has issued the following statement:

"MIT recently received a subpoena from the Recording Industry Association of America that was issued under the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The subpoena requests the name and address of the individual whose computer was, according to the RIAA, sending out copyrighted songs on the Internet.

"A different federal law, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, prohibits colleges and universities from disclosing information about students except in certain situations. One of the situations is when an educational institution is served with valid subpoenas. However, even when valid subpoenas are served, the law requires the educational institution to give students advance notice of the existence of the subpoenas, so that they can take whatever action they may choose to try to protect their information from disclosure.

"MIT of course has a policy of complying with lawfully issued subpoenas. But in this case we have been advised by counsel that the subpoena was not in compliance with the court rules that apply to these subpoenas, and did not allow MIT time to send any notice as the law requires.

"We understand that there is an active national debate about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the subpoenas that the RIAA is issuing under it. By objecting to this particular subpoena, MIT is not taking any sides in that debate. But we are required by federal law to disclose student information only if we have a valid subpoena and have given the necessary advance notice.

"MIT filed a motion in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts today on that point only, and has asked the Court to advise MIT how to proceed."

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