Downloading penalties stiffer

The penalty for illegally downloading music or movies in Kansas University residence halls has become steeper.

Effective this fall, KU has instituted a zero-tolerance policy and will deactivate ResNet Network access for students in university housing if KU receives notice of a copyright violation and an appeal is denied. Students could still access computers on campus labs and use their KU e-mail addresses.

“It’s serious business. Students need to take notice,” KU spokesman Todd Cohen said. “That’s why we are trying to educate them and their parents. It’s not a matter of thinking that nothing will happen to you.”

Under the previous policy, students were allowed three strikes. Typically, the university would make the user remove the material and watch a tutorial in addition to receive a warning. But KU has received an increasing number of complaints from businesses and organizations each year, such as 141 notices in 2005 and 345 in the past year, Cohen said.

“From day one, they’re going to get the warning: ‘Don’t do it,’ rather than waiting for that first or second strike,” he said.

Information on KU’s Internet use Web site,, lists possible illegal file-sharing software as KaZaA, Gnutella, Morpheus or DC++.

KU leaders stressed the new policy the same day the Recording Industry Association of America announced it had sent 408 pre-litigation settlement letters to 23 universities, including KU.

RIAA represents large record companies, including EMI Recorded Music, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group.

RIAA asks the universities, which are the Internet service providers, to forward the letters to the person with a corresponding Internet protocol address. RIAA offers to settle with students before filing a lawsuit, said RIAA spokeswoman Cara Duckworth.

She said RIAA has focused its attention on colleges as an “education and deterrence campaign” because the illegal downloading is “disproportionately high on college campuses.” RIAA has sent about 2,400 of the letters since February 2003, and the most recent letters sent allege the illegal downloads occurred in the past six months.

According to a Journal-World story in 2004, a then-KU student settled with RIAA for about $3,000.