The University Record, September 25, 2000

U-M responds to request on mp3 files

By Wanda Monroe
Office of the Chief Information Officer

Earlier this month, attorneys representing recording artists Metallica and Dr. Dre asked the U-M and several other universities to restrict access to the popular music Web site, Napster.com. An excerpt of the request states: “By this letter, we ask you to also promptly ban access by your community to Napster . . . we believe that the University of Michigan has a moral, ethical and legal obligation to take appropriate steps to assure that it is not a willing participant in and an enabler of the theft of intellectual property through Napster.”

On Sept. 19, Josť-Marie Griffiths, university chief information officer, issued a response to the attorneys. Griffiths noted, “As an institution engaged in the development and dissemination of knowledge, we strive to create an environment in which intellectual property rights are honored and respected. We continue to discuss and implement legal, technological and educational steps to ensure that the University's resources are used responsibly.” The letter includes examples of the University’s efforts to provide education regarding copyright and bandwidth (networking) concerns.

Information regarding problems associated with downloading music files has been featured in The University Record, The Michigan Daily and other University publications, on Web sites, and on posters. During student orientation and other events earlier this term, students were briefed on the rights and responsibilities of the University community regarding copyright law and responsible use of computer resources. All users of computer resources are required to sign an agreement to abide by the policy prior to receiving their uniqname and password.

In addition to these efforts, James Hilton was appointed special assistant to the provost for media rights last year to help educate the campus community about intellectual property and media rights. “The Internet has made it incredibly easy to obtain digitized materials. It is imperative that we continue to improve the understanding of the individual’s rights and responsibilities to the campus community as technology advances,” Hilton said.

“It is our aim to create an environment in which the University community has diverse resources, including those available through MP3 sites, to explore and enhance the learning experience,” Griffiths said. “We do, however, take swift and appropriate action if we become aware that University resources have been used to violate the law.”

To view the full text of the response letter, see the Web at www.cio.umich.edu/news/mp3response.html. To learn more about the University’s policy on appropriate use of computer resources, see the Web at www.itd.umich.edu/nav/policies.html.


Act Responsibly

  • Use and distribution of copyrighted materials without paying the appropriate royalty may be illegal.

  • Because media-sharing sites make it easy to acquire media files, the programs downloaded also may automatically set up personal computers as servers. The server arrangement allows others to retrieve files from your machine, establishing you as a potential distributor of files—including files that have copyrighted content. Check with your system administrator on instructions for setting the appropriate preferences for your computer.

  • Transferring large media files can slow the network, making it less responsive or even unavailable to you and to others who rely on it to do their work.