June 5, 2008 | By Emily Berger

Laser Printers Found Guilty of "Making Available" Crimes

Two professors and a student at the University of Washington released a study today explaining "Why My Printer Received a DMCA Takedown Notice" [PDF]. They argue that DMCA takedown notices, used as the principle mechanism for enforcing copyright on the Internet, should be viewed skeptically. We couldn’t agree more!

The researchers examined BitTorrent file-sharing networks using specially designed BitTorrent clients to monitor the traffic on these networks. Even though their clients did not upload or download any files, the researchers received over 400 takedown requests accusing them of copyright infringement. Every one of those notices was a false positive. Their results show that "potentially any Internet user is at risk for receiving DMCA takedown notices today.”

In fact, as the New York Times put it, "an inanimate object could also get the blame." Three laserjet printers used in the study were accused in takedown letters by the MPAA of downloading copies of "Iron Man” and the latest Indiana Jones film.

Colleges and universities should pay close attention to the findings, given that students often face harsh penalties from their institutions if they are hit with a DMCA notice. The RIAA has admitted that it bases its DMCA notices to universities and colleges solely on identifying files as "available” for sharing even though two courts, D. Mass. [PDF] and D. Ariz. [PDF], have confirmed that making files available, in and of itself, does not violate copyright law, and even making files available can cause no conceivable financial harm. (The RIAA does insist that their investigators actually download files before sending prelitigation letters and filing lawsuits.)


Deeplinks Topics

Stay in Touch

NSA Spying

EFF is leading the fight against the NSA's illegal mass surveillance program. Learn more about what the program is, how it works, and what you can do.

Follow EFF

Volume 3.0 of @MuwatenRaqamy is now live in three languages! https://eff.org/r.9cze Subscribe today: https://www.digcit.org/sign-up/

May 27 @ 11:20am

Leaked TISA text reveals plans to ban FOSS mandates, globalize anti-spam laws, and limit protection of personal data https://eff.org/r.95nc

May 27 @ 10:39am

Why the Internet is broken again: part 1 of our explainer on the "Logjam" security flaw https://eff.org/r.fjm2

May 27 @ 10:35am
JavaScript license information