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Saturday, September 28 • 11:45am - 12:20pm
Why Are College Students Easily Targeted?: The Enforcement of the Graduated Response Policy on Campus

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Copyright law enforcement is a matter of balancing: balancing different legal rights and interests of creators (or right holders) and users, enforcement costs and benefits, and benefits from the prevention of using infringing material and costs of the deterrence (or termination) of potential fair use. The last balancing concern is at the core of the copyright and copyleft debate. This study intends to relate that general debate to the question of equal treatment of infringers by examining the current implementation of graduated response policy (also known as ?three strikes? policy).

Individual copyright infringers vary, ranging from students to corporate workers. It is possible to assume that some people may suffer more from losing access to copyrighted material than others, and that some uses of copyrighted works are more likely to fall under fair use than other uses. Despite the individual differences, it is expected that copyright law is applied to every individual in an equal and nondiscriminatory manner. However, is every user of copyrighted works subject to the same amount of probability of punishment? Isn?t there a possibility that some people are more vulnerable to copyright enforcement than others?

This study stems from the concern that college students are more exposed to copyright enforcement, including the graduated response policy and pre-litigation settlement, than other categories of users due to the current digital copyright enforcement system. Although a considerable portion of their use is educational and in turn falls into fair use, it is more likely that they get caught and punished for copyright infringement. Many universities in the United States, in practice, use graduated response schemes and can effectively control copyright infringing activities of their students by blocking their access to the Internet through the university network. Since college students heavily rely on the Internet network provided by their universities, the termination of Internet access could result in serious impediments to their academic and social activities, as well as restricting their freedom of expression.

For these reasons, this study aims to identify possible problems of the enforcement of the graduated response policy by universities. It will investigate the number of students disconnected from the Internet as a result of the university?s copyright enforcement and compare the number to that of users disconnected by commercial Internet Service Providers (ISPs) including Comcast and Cablevision. In addition, as criticized in prior studies on graduated response schemes (e.g., Haber, 2011; Suzor & Fitzgerald, 2011), the lack of means that can prevent and remedy false accusations of copyright infringement is the main problem of the graduated response policy. Thus, it will be examined whether universities provide any protection for their students who were falsely accused and have power to stop proceeding against the unreasonably accused students.

The empirical data for this study is collected mainly through archival research and by interviewing university personnel taking charge of copyright issues on the university network. This study is meaningful in that it will alert society to substantial and procedural problems of a type of copyright enforcement and suggest ways to redress the problems and to achieve more balancing and effective copyright systems.

Haber, E. (2011). The French Revolution 2.0: Copyright and the Three Strikes Policy. Harvard Journal of Sports & Entertainment Law, 2(2), 297-339.
Suzor, N., & Fitzgerald, B. (2011). The Legitimacy of Graduated Response Schemes in Copyright Law. University of New South Wales Law Journal, 34(1), 1-40.

Saturday September 28, 2013 11:45am - 12:20pm PDT
GMUSL Room 332

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