Tuesday, April 03, 2007

UC Berkeley and DMCA Scare Tactics

I received an absolutely infuriating e-mail today from Jonathan Poullard, the Dean of Students at UC Berkeley. I've never met Mr. Poullard nor honestly have I ever heard of him until today. But he's proven himself to be a complete baboon's ass by sending a downright incendiary e-mail, reproduced in full for your enjoyment. Can you guess why I'm pissed off?


Dear Student,

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), copying and sharing copyrighted materials without permission is illegal. As you may know, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and some other copyright owners and groups have recently stepped up their efforts to curb illegal filesharing on the Internet. This academic year, the University has received a much larger volume of complaints about peer-to-peer file sharing under the DMCA. In addition, the RIAA is sending "early settlement" letters to colleges around the country as part of their new anti-theft campaign announced in January (see press release at http://www.riaa.com/news/newsletter/032107.asp). This is an opportune time to remind you of relevant policies and practices at UC Berkeley.

DMCA "take-down" notices

Federal law requires that the University take action when it is notified that someone on its network is distributing copyrighted materials without permission. Whether you are aware of the violation or not, if UC Berkeley’s DMCA agent receives a "takedown notice" alleging that your computer is distributing copyrighted material without permission, the University follows established policy enforcement procedures, see:

http://www.rescomp.berkeley.edu/besmart/filesharing/ http://itpolicy.berkeley.edu/copyright/

Early Settlement Letters

The University of California has agreed to forward "early settlement" letters to students on the campus network that the RIAA alleges have shared copyrighted material illegally. The University will send a cover letter along with the RIAA early settlement letter to the student's email address, as well as his/her current and permanent addresses. Unless served with a proper subpoena, UC Berkeley will NOT release the name of the user to the content owner or RIAA upon receipt of a DMCA notice or early settlement letter.

By forwarding the early settlement letters, the University of California has made no determination that students have engaged in copyright infringement or that they should enter into an early settlement with the copyright holder. It is solely the student's personal decision whether to avail him or herself of the "early settlement" procedure.

Legal downloading

UC Berkeley supports and encourages the legal downloading of music, movies, and software. Residential and Student Service Programs provides extensive education for incoming students about the potential legal and policy enforcement consequences of illegal filesharing. To find out more about these campus programs, please visit

http://rescomp.berkeley.edu/besmart/ and

To comply with the law and to protect yourself from possible litigation, we strongly encourage you to remove illegally-obtained copyrighted material from your computer, and to stop downloading copyrighted material illegally if you do so now. We will continue our vigorous education efforts in this area, but ultimately the choice is yours. Please take advantage of the information on the websites listed in this letter.


Jonathan Poullard
Dean of Students

Shelton Waggener
Associate Vice-Chancellor and
Chief Information Officer

So let me get this straight. Have I just been accused of something or not?

Mr. Poullard decided to send each and every student this same exact e-mail and yet insinuates time and time again that I'm personally doing something wrong. Why is it that at some points in the e-mail, Poullard uses the neutral third-person--". . . early settlement letter to the student's email address, as well as his/her current and permanent addresses."--but then out of nowhere strongly encourages me personally to remove all illegal content on my machine? Oh and how nice of them to tell me that they strongly encourage ME to stop downloading illegal content "if [I] do so now."

Read the last paragraph again and tell me this doesn't call for a beatdown situation.


Anonymous said...

got the same e-mail, i thought they were telling me that i had done something until i asked my friends if they got the same e-mail.

Chris said...

yes. beatdown.

Mad.J.D. said...

This was a really weird email. Mostly I was annoyed at how long it was.

Than I got to wondering if I have illegal stuff on my machine, and then I really started to resent the email for making me take time out of my day worrying about this bullshit.

Beat. Down.

Anonymous said...

i graduated more than a year ago and am working in the bay area now and i received this mail too.

Anonymous said...

Does not surprise me. Mr. Poullard is ass. Just look into his history of sexual harrassment and letters sent to him dusted with what hazmat thought was anthrax. He made is pregnant assistant open them. Yes there were many.
Beat down is an understatement.

Anonymous said...

Dude, you're weird and paranoid.