The recording industry has subpoenaed GW to reveal the identities of 19 students who allegedly violated copyright laws.
The Recording Industry Associates of America has identified a group of anonymous IP addresses connected to illegal downloading. In the spring, the RIAA sent the University letters asking the students to settle on this matter out of court.
Because no one settled, the identities of all 19 students are being sought. The University said they would comply with the subpoenas, and will notify the appropriate students of the incident.
“Under the court order that accompanies the subpoena, GW must provide with written notice of the subpoena to the individuals involved within five business days,” Michelle Sherrard, a University spokesperson, wrote in an e-mail.
She added the students have until Nov. 13 to attempt to have the subpoena repealed.
Cara Duckworth, a spokesperson for the RIAA, said people sometimes try to repeal the subpoena, but the courts usually rule in favor of the record companies.
“There have been a small number of attempts to “quash” subpoenas that we send to schools,” Duckworth wrote in an e-mail. “However, courts have overwhelmingly ruled in favor of the record companies on this motion.”
The pre-litigation letters forwarded to students in the spring warned that if they did not contact the RIAA within a certain period of time, a lawsuit would be filed against them in federal court.
After a “John Doe” lawsuit is filed, the RIAA then seeks a subpoena for more information on the users.
GW cannot disclose any information regarding the student’s education record without first making a reasonable attempt to notify that student so they can seek protection from the court, Sherrard said.
However, the student can fight the subpoena, Sherrard said.
“The student may file a motion with the court to prevent disclosure of his or her identity. If any such motion is filed, the court will rule on it,” she said.
Recently at least one new letter – called a Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice – has surfaced at GW regarding new infringements from this September.
Duckworth said these notices are sent on a daily basis.
“We send DMCA notices on a daily basis, when we capture clear evidence of infringement via (Internet service providers),” she said. “In this case, the ISPs are University networks.”