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University cracking down on campus-based piracy

Phil Waller

 

The University of Mississippi is cracking down on students who illegally download music through the Appropriate Use Policy. Students who violate the policy can have their Internet access taken away, and legal action can also be a potential consequence.

During orientation, students and parents are informed about the policy and the consequences that come with violating it. Also, students are required every year to sign off on the policy through their myOleMiss account. There has been an increase in violations, however, despite the policy being in existence for so many years.

Chief information officer Kathy Gates said she thinks this is due to the university increasing its bandwidth.

“We’re opening up bandwidth in the residence halls to try to give you all a better experience, but along with that, we’re seeing more of these illegal downloads,” she said.

The university does not directly monitor students’ Internet activity. They are notified by the Recording Industry Association of America through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act when a student violates a copyright law.

Following a student’s first violation, his or her Internet access is blocked until he or she complies with the Appropriate Use Policy and agrees to delete all copyrighted material from his or her computer. If a student violates the policy for a second time, he or she has to appear to the complaint committee. On the third violation, a student will have to meet with the dean of students, where he or she can face the same types of disciplinary measures as other university policies, which include failure in a class as well as suspension or expulsion from the university.

The punishments for violators is steep and IT Helpdesk manager Teresa McCarver said she wants students to be more aware.

“The main thing they need to know is that downloading and redistributing copyrighted material is just a problem,” she said. “It’s something they shouldn’t be doing.”

Thomas Womble, junior international studies major, said he was not aware of the policy but understands how students are misinformed.

“Students aren’t walked through as in depth as they maybe should be about what’s acceptable and what isn’t,” he said.

Sophomore marketing major Jay Sheffer said he thinks the price of downloading music is the reason students choose to download files illegally.

“It’s like $1.09 to buy one song, so people probably don’t want to pay that much just for one song they can just download (for free) on the Internet,” he said.

Paying more than $1 for one song might seem like a hassle at the time, but in the long run, a lot of money can be saved by spending money to legally download something.

The RIAA and Motion Picture Association of America are aggressively looking for people who violate these copyright laws and do not shy away from legal action. The RIAA and DMCA can sue for up to $30,000 for each infringed work or up to $150,000 for willful infringement, according to the Ole Miss Policy Directory. Criminal penalties include fines and imprisonment for up to three years.