Brooklyn Law School No Fan Of Due Process; Apparently Handing Names Over To MPAA [Updated]

from the what-are-they-teaching-students dept

You have to wonder what the Brooklyn Law School is teaching its students about due process, since it recently sent an email to all students saying that after receiving complaints from copyright holders about file sharing movies and TV shows, it was going to associate the IP addresses with names and hand them over to the copyright holders. Of course, this is based solely on an IP address, which is not particularly accurate or reliable as a unique identifier of an individual, so what Brooklyn Law School is basically telling its students is that it doesn't care if they falsely accuse them of file sharing, and the students should work it out with someone else. Not exactly the sort of lesson that you would think a law school wants to teach its students. Update: Ah, the power of a little attention. Apparently the school has already backed down and said that it will only do what is legally required by the DMCA, which does not include simply handing over names.
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Filed Under: due process, law school
Companies: brooklyn law school


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  • identicon
    Jake, 30 Oct 2009 @ 8:24am

    Actually, I'd say that was a pretty good lesson in how most of their future employers will expect them to use the law.

    As an offensive weapon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2009 @ 8:25am

    Cant really care where the whores learn their trade, as long as they are around when i need their services.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Free Capitalist (profile), 30 Oct 2009 @ 8:26am

    I didn't think they were cannibals, but...

    more legal actions = larger market for legal professionals. Larger market for legal pros = greater opportunity for law schools.

    Voila!

    And I really should have known they were cannibals... what was I thinking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2009 @ 8:31am

    I expect better from a law school. Shouldn't law schools be teaching students to use the law for the good and that due process is a good thing and that people have rights and the purpose of the law is to ensure this sort of thing. But now this law school is setting a bad example for law students by implying that it's OK to circumvent these important processes that have been built into our justice system. What kind of lesson does this teach law students and lawyers? It seems to give them the wrong message.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2009 @ 10:54am

      Re:

      > Shouldn't law schools be teaching students to use the law for the good and that due process is a good thing and that people have rights and the purpose of the law is to ensure this sort of thing.

      Not in this country, man...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Andrew (profile), 30 Oct 2009 @ 8:36am

    Violating their own terms of service

    The letter points to the terms of service (TOS) for using the network at the school. However, they are violating their own TOS at least twice:

    "You will not allow access to your account, including revealing user names, passwords, and other identifiers, to any unauthorized person." - I'd say the MPAA investigator is an unauthorized person

    "Privacy Notice:
    Brooklyn Law School takes privacy seriously. In general, we will not disclose or sell your data to third parties, except as required by law or judicial action, or as explicitly given permission by you. Brooklyn Law School is a not-for-profit educational institution; therefore, the disclosure of most of your data is governed by Federal Law."

    There is no law or judicial action here, so they are prevented by federal law from disclosing the information to the MPAA.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2009 @ 8:52am

      Re: Violating their own terms of service

      The school has probably been presented with DMCA notices. They have few options at that point, they need to take down the material. Now, if the material doesn't come down, they can be liable.

      So rather than get caught in the middle of it, they are doing what they need to do to limit their own liability. Specifically, they are saying "it isn't the school, it is this individual".

      As for "There is no law or judicial action here:, umm, last time I looked copyright and DMCA were laws. NEXT!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        hegemon13, 30 Oct 2009 @ 9:01am

        Re: Re: Violating their own terms of service

        "...umm, last time I looked copyright and DMCA were laws. NEXT!"

        Yes, but since the term "judicial" refers to action from a judge, that does not really help them. DMCA is a takedown notice from a private party, where the school is required to work within their power to remove a copyrighted file. It is a takedown request from a third party. It is not a subpoena, and it is definitely not a court order. Therefore, no judicial action is present.

        Besides, there is no mention of DMCA in the story. That is a falsehood that you claimed at the beginning of your own paragraph. It does not even make sense for the DMCA to apply here. Nice job of failing to even blow over your own strawman.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        R. Miles (profile), 30 Oct 2009 @ 9:03am

        Re: Re: Violating their own terms of service

        The school has probably been presented with DMCA notices. They have few options at that point, they need to take down the material. Now, if the material doesn't come down, they can be liable.
        Um... this makes no sense. The school itself isn't storing anything, merely having its networks used to obtain the content.

        DMCA can't cover this, so if it is being used, it's done so illegally. One would think a *law school* would note this, but obviously, some schools are about revenue, not education.

        Personally, I think this is a scare tactic knowing full well the school can't stop it unless it can trace the user to the account, and block the account.

        The school would be better off stating "We've received several notices of copyright infringement violations and if the actions of our students does not cease, we'll have no choice but to block student access outside our schools without supervision. We don't want this. You don't want this. File share on your own network. Thank you."

        It'll be interesting to see if Techdirt does a follow-up on this story.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Dark Helmet (profile), 30 Oct 2009 @ 9:08am

        Re: Re: Violating their own terms of service

        "The school has probably been presented with DMCA notices. They have few options at that point, they need to take down the material. Now, if the material doesn't come down, they can be liable."

        Did I miss something? Where does it say anything about hosting infringing files? I got the impression that they were going after downloaders/uploaders to bit torrent. Where would a DMCA come into play here?

        "So rather than get caught in the middle of it, they are doing what they need to do to limit their own liability. Specifically, they are saying "it isn't the school, it is this individual"."

        Sure, I assume they can do that...unless of course they specifically state in their own TOS that they won't. As we know, violations of TOS are akin to criminally hacking the DOD database of our hidden spooks, so I assume this entire schools will be going to jail post haste...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2009 @ 9:15am

          Re: Re: Re: Violating their own terms of service

          Sorry, basic error there. You cannot by a TOS overrule law. The ISP has notified them, likely that the ISP was notified, and unlike an "innocent provider", the school is just an end user who has no "230" protection. So they have fewer options.

          a TOS doesn't stop legal action, or provide a shield or protection past the law.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Richard (profile), 30 Oct 2009 @ 9:54am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Violating their own terms of service

            Larger Educational establishments usually act as their own ISP.

            That must be the case here - otherwise those notifications would have gone to the actual ISP not to the school

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2009 @ 12:25pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Violating their own terms of service

              Richard, I think you missed it:

              "This semester we have received several warnings from our Internet service provider"

              The school appears to be just an end client.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      LostSailor (profile), 30 Oct 2009 @ 9:16am

      Re: Violating their own terms of service

      Actually, the students are violating the terms of service:


      You agree that:

      * You will not use the network to commit any act which is a violation of New York State or United States Federal law

      ...

      * You may not attach to or operate on the Network a) servers (including file, web or peer-to-peer file sharing), or b) routers (including wired or wireless transmitters or base stations) without prior approval by BLS.

      ...

      Any violation of these terms will immediately terminate your license to use the computer system, and may subject you to discipline or other law enforcement action as set forth in the Student Handbook. BLS shall have the final right to determine whether a violation of the Terms of Service has occurred.


      It seems that BLS has every right to do this.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Shawn, 30 Oct 2009 @ 9:47am

        Re: Re: Violating their own terms of service

        'Any violation of these terms will immediately terminate your license to use the computer system, and may subject you to discipline or other law enforcement action as set forth in the Student Handbook. BLS shall have the final right to determine whether a violation of the Terms of Service has occurred.'

        Then terminate their network access. Unless the "copyright holders' have a court order there is no law enforcement action. "it was going to associate the IP addresses with names and hand them over to the copyright holders" goes beyond the quoted TOS

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          LostSailor (profile), 30 Oct 2009 @ 10:08am

          Re: Re: Re: Violating their own terms of service

          it was going to associate the IP addresses with names and hand them over to the copyright holders" goes beyond the quoted TOS

          Does it?

          and may subject you to discipline or other law enforcement action as set forth in the Student Handbook.


          And there is "law enforcement action" other than a court order. Neither the linked story or the email it quotes indicates whether there was a DMCA notice sent to the school, but that could be considered an action in enforcing the copyright law.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2009 @ 10:37am

        Re: Re: Violating their own terms of service

        The school can disable their port, the school can assist law enforcement efforts...

        HOWEVER at no point does it say it can just give personal information to a third party that may or may not be affected by actions that you may or may not be doing.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tracker1 (profile), 30 Oct 2009 @ 9:31am

      Re: Violating their own terms of service

      ...In general...

      Unfortunately, there's that little piece in place.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 30 Oct 2009 @ 8:38am

    Note to self

    Never hire anyone who went to Brooklyn School of Law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    thublihnk (profile), 30 Oct 2009 @ 8:44am

    Perhaps this is some sort of grand challenge to the students.

    "Challenge this violation of basic law and order, and you get an A!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), 30 Oct 2009 @ 9:00am

    Just Business.

    Lawyering is a business just like any other--and like all business people; they want to make sure there is a market for their services... and I'm going to stop now 'cause I'm scaring myself with this line of thought.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    LostSailor (profile), 30 Oct 2009 @ 9:12am

    Hmmm...

    Law school students are (allegedly) breaking the law; law school (allegedly) takes steps to stop (alleged) illegal activity by its students thereby (allegedly) upholding the law.

    You're right. A gross violation of "due process" (which really only applies to court proceedings, which this isn't).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Designerfx (profile), 30 Oct 2009 @ 9:22am

    read updates!

    per RIAA vs the people:

    This morning, BLS backed off and changed their policy back to a more sane position:

    ________________________________________
    From: Announcements On Behalf Of Phil Allred
    Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2009 12:08 PM
    To: All Users
    Subject: [BLS] Update on illegal downloads e-mail notice

    Yesterday, I sent out an e-mail regarding the recent spate of abuse notices we have received from our Internet service provider. Under our contract, users are prohibited from downloading copyrighted works. If we knowingly allow such activity to continue without taking action, we risk losing access to the Internet. When we can ascertain the people who are responsible for alleged illegal downloads, we will notify them to cease such activity. We will comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap5.html#512 ). Outside of the legal process, we are not obligated to turn over the names of the alleged infringers to copyright holders and will not do so.


    AKA they realized how stupid this is.

    "we could lose our internet service" sounds quite shady too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    yandabrown, 30 Oct 2009 @ 9:28am

    Do you really know their network?

    "Of course, this is based solely on an IP address, which is not particularly accurate or reliable as a unique identifier of an individual,"

    How well do you know their network, this is entirely possible.

    The TOS do prevent onward connectivity:

    "You may not attach to or operate on the Network a) servers (including file, web or peer-to-peer file sharing), or b) routers (including wired or wireless transmitters or base stations) without prior approval by BLS."

    So unless the BLS have approved this loophole then you can very necessarily tie IP addresses to people. Do we know that this email went to everyone or just those that never applied for approval?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Benjie, 30 Oct 2009 @ 10:21am

    Hope they get their own

    Would be nice to see these students all group together and apply their new founded knowledge suing the school for giving out private data, such as their names/etc, without a court order.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bigpicture, 30 Oct 2009 @ 10:47am

    Law School Ethics

    Law schools teach their students ethics like "innocent until proved guilty"? Or don't manipulate laws and words? Don't work the system? Don't take bribes and call them donations? Give me a break!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Hephaestus (profile), 30 Oct 2009 @ 11:01am

    Has anyone ....

    Has anyone verified that this e-mail actually went out and isnt just spam sent to scare the students or a hoax.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2009 @ 11:17am

    If the students are learning anything, they know that truth is relative in a court of law. And that all that needs to be proven is reasonable doubt. IP addresses are not like strands of DNA.
    They prove only that an IP address was assigned(DHCP) to a particular hardware address(MAC). And then that is compared to the logs on the server to determine whose account was logged in with that address. Yes, yes, it's all academic.

    Even IF it was your login account, IP addresses and MAC addresses can be spoofed VERY easily. Mis-configured server software can create log errors, etc.

    But then, most of the infringement complaints are coming from the idiot recording industry. And currently, they're getting their false information from THE DUMBEST, MOST CLUELESS organization on the planet.. DtecNet.

    ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Daemon_ZOGG (profile), 30 Oct 2009 @ 11:24am

    The truth of the matter...

    If the students are learning anything, they know that truth is relative in a court of law. And that all that needs to be proven is reasonable doubt. IP addresses are not like strands of DNA.
    They prove only that an IP address was assigned(DHCP) to a particular hardware address(MAC). And then that is compared to the logs on the server to determine whose account was logged in with that address. Yes, yes, it's all academic.

    Even IF it was your login account, IP addresses and MAC addresses can be spoofed VERY easily. Mis-configured or poorly implemented server software can create log errors, etc.

    But then, most of the infringement complaints are coming from the idiot recording industry. And currently, they're getting their false information from THE DUMBEST, MOST CLUELESS organization on the planet.. DtecNet.

    ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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