Archive for Saturday, October 14, 2006

Universities crack down on illegal downloads

October 14, 2006


— You can't miss them on campus.

Shiny white ear buds and iPods dangling as students bop in step on their way to class. Many of the students are listening to songs downloaded illegally. And though the idea of free songs may be music to their ears, all the recording industry hears is the swooshing sound of money flying out the window.

"College students remain a very significant part of the illegal downloading problem," said Cary Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, at a U.S. House hearing last month.

Sherman claimed that more than half of students on college campuses download music illegally. The association maintains the industry has suffered billions of dollars in losses and has filed thousands of civil-action lawsuits in response to the downloading. In 2004, the association filed suit against two Kansas University students.

The government has started to take a vested interest in the problem. After all, every song not sold is sales tax not collected. Now the pressure is being put on universities to solve the problem of illegal file-sharing.

"Some schools have really stepped up to the plate. Some have not. Some have resisted," testified Dan Glickman, former Kansas congressman and current president and chief executive officer of the Motion Picture Association of America.

3 strikes, you're out

Kansas University's policy for students who illegally download music is a three-strikes program. If the Motion Picture Association of America, the recording industry or other copyright owners send a complaint to the university: ¢ On the first offense, the student with the illegal files is ordered to delete them and fill out an online security quiz. ¢ On the second offense, the student must attend a 20-minute education session. ¢ On the third offense, the student is permanently banned from the computer networks in student housing.

Sherman went even further, saying "many of them resist taking action or do as little as possible in order to brush off further responsibility."

Glickman, Sherman and other representatives of the entertainment industry asked universities to take action in three major areas: education, enforcement and the implementation of new technology.

KU has its own program for handling illegal-downloading violations.

"We are taking it seriously, but we are taking an educational approach, because that is what we are good at it," said Alison Lopez, public relations and marketing manager for KU Information Services.

The KU education method is a three-strikes program.

If the Motion Picture Association of America, the recording industry or other copyright owners send a complaint to the university, the student with the illegal files is ordered to delete them and fill out an online security quiz.

A second offense brings a mandatory 20-minute educational session and - if that doesn't work - the three-time offender is banned permanently from the computer networks in student housing.

In 2004, KU had 192 complaints and in 2005 had 196. So far this year, 146 complaints have been received.

The university does not take action against a student unless a complaint has been issued.

"KU does not actively go out and look for this. We don't monitor the use. But when somebody brings something to our attention, we deal with it," said Jane Tuttle, assistant to the vice provost for student success.

The entertainment industry would like to see a more active approach by universities.

The University of Florida restricts the use of many peer-to-peer, or P2P, file-sharing programs often used for illegal file-sharing. Pennsylvania State University did the same, but created its own P2P network called Lionshare and customized it for academia.

But, William Fisher, a Harvard University professor of intellectual property law, testified before a House subcommittee last month that "suppressing illegal activity of this sort will never be fully effective unless good alternatives are available."

The University of Maryland is one of a handful of universities trying to rise to that challenge.

Maryland provides a free music service called Ctrax. The service provides roughly 2.2 million songs that students can download to multiple computers.

But some students said they were unable to install the software and consistently received an error message. Other students hadn't even heard of the program.

"We need to let students know that this service is an attractive legal alternative to the illegal activity," said University of Maryland spokeswoman Amy Ginther.

KU hasn't taken steps toward offering a similar legal alternative for downloading music and movies.

"That sort of approach doesn't lead to meaningful behavioral change, which is what we are trying to do by engaging students individually," Allison Lopez said.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

Sprialfrog appears to be a project of RIAA. My guess is that'll it'll be too little, too late. Music is something to be shared between musicians and their fans, and the major labels who run RIAA are just obsolete.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

The claims for damages are greatly exaggerated because the majority of these college students would not be buying CD's from these companies even if the P2P services were unavailable-- $15-25 a pop is just way more than they, and lots of other people, can afford.

With new recording technologies and distribution systems on the internet available directly to bands, the price for "CD's" (albums won't retain that format much longer) is dropping to the $5-10 range, and by cutting out the RIAA middlemen, the artists will get much more of that money. Most people will be happy to pay it for better and more varied music.

No wonder the RIAA is panicking.

CeeCee 11 years, 8 months ago

Here is a site that will soon be offering add supported legal downloads of audio and video content licensed from the catalogs of the world's major and independent record labels. It says it will debut in December 2006.

classclown 11 years, 8 months ago

To expand on what Bozo is saying, most of the cd's only contain one song that people think is worth listening to with the rest of it being filler that only a die hard fan would really care to listen to. So that $15-25 a pop is what they are expected to pay for only one song.

Back in the days of vinyl you could basically just buy that one song you liked. Remember 45's? Although they contained a "B" side, but they were readily available.

You can find them here and there on cd, but they are few and far in between. And when one is found, the cost isn't much less than the price of the whole album.

Another point Bozo brought up is the fact that in this ever changing world the internet is becoming the new medium for the dispersion of music. The RIAA could have embraced this as a new opportunity, yet they chose to circle the wagons and attempt to bully their customer base.

This as with everything else in the world is evolving, and and they either need to evolve and adapt or sit around awaiting extinction. It would appear they chose the latter.

classclown 11 years, 8 months ago

"My guess is that'll it'll be too little, too late. Music is something to be shared between musicians and their fans, and the major labels who run RIAA are just obsolete."



just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 8 months ago

Intellectual properties, Marion?

Now that's a hoot.

roger_o_thornhill 11 years, 8 months ago

I like buzzards. They are creepy looking, but they do perform an invaluable service.

compmd 11 years, 8 months ago

The RIAA got very used to having enormous profits. After p2p filesharing became a viable means of distribution, they didn't like the idea of another player in the game. However, they haven't lost any money. It is an organization of liars and thieves desperate to continue its mission of greed. Don't believe me? Ask the 12 year old girl they filed a federal civil suit against for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Or, there's the 70-something grandmother who doesn't even own a computer, but the RIAA accuses her of downloading Britney Spears. The government has no need to be worried about lost sales tax on CDs (which isn't happening, look at the financial statements of RIAA member companies). What the government should be worrying about is the mockery that the RIAA is making of the federal judiciary and the extreme abuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the DMCA is a bad thing, I use it all the time to enforce intellectual property rights on proprietary software, but there are some sections of it that are downright absurd. I'm going to stop myself before going off on this topic though. Let me leave you and the LJW with the following thoughts, because this story was not sufficiently researched.

1) How is downloading music illegal? 2) Define the copyright concept of "fair use." 3) Where is the end user license agreement that the purchaser of a CD implicitly agrees to when purchasing a CD? Can they read the terms prior to purchase? 4) Why is the RIAA permitted to prevent a user from exercising their right to fair use and use the law granting them that right to punish the user? 5) Why can't people on networks that they know are being constantly scanned for "infringing material" be beaten with a clue stick and turn off the ability to upload? If the RIAA doesn't know its there, they can't sue you.

Gah, after posting this, I think I need to go to a shooting range.

delta77 11 years, 8 months ago

p> is a great alternative for students. The music is cheap (about $2 an album) and great quality. I sure as heck am not paying 99 cents per song.

gmaikido 11 years, 8 months ago

If illegal downloading is illegal then how are p2p sites kazaa, limewire, etc ready and available for one to download music?

doc1 11 years, 8 months ago

Gosh it must suck to have to have to settle for the cheaper black Ferrari instead of the Red one. I feel for the recording industry exects. I can't imagine having to settle for a summer home in Arizona when I could have had one in Florida. Poor little recording industry.

imagold 11 years, 8 months ago

Ahh, 45's. I've still got mine from high school. And on my stereo, I could stack 'em about six high for hours of listening pleasure.

KsTwister 11 years, 8 months ago

Back to 8 track tapes and records? I wonder how many of these guys copied a song off the radio onto a cassette?

robman0079 10 years, 3 months ago

Hi, i was wondering if downloading from sites like and is illegal??? Have they been cracking down on this kind of downloading??? If so, why dont they just shut down these web-sites???

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