College students warned of file sharing penalties

Print More

(Host) As students prepare to return to classes this fall, colleges are taking steps to alert them to the consequences of illegally downloading copyrighted music. Recently, the recording industry has taken action against some colleges and students in an effort to stop illegal file sharing.

VPR’s Steve Zind looks at how the area’s two largest colleges are responding.

(Zind) This fall, students at the University of Vermont will find a new and sterner advisory from the university about the illegal downloading of music from the Internet. The University says as of last April, it can be required by law to turn over the name of an offending student to the recording industry. The student could then be sued for violating copyright law. That has already happened elsewhere – with resulting fines of over $10,000.

UVM’s stepped up effort to inform students of the consequences of illegal file sharing corresponds to a more aggressive approach by the recording industry. This summer, the industry subpoenaed a number of colleges demanding names and addresses of computer users suspected of illegally sharing music.

In the past, the industry’s approach has been to file a complaint informing the university that someone using its network is illegally downloading material.

(Roger Lawson) “It happens that all of the complaints come directly to me.”

(Zind) Roger Lawson is the director of UVM’s Computer and Information Technology Office. During the school year he receives about five complaints a week from the recording industry.

(Lawson) “We respond immediately to those complaints, we contact the student.”

(Zind) Lawson says in most cases the student stops after the first warning. By law, the university has to take action when a complaint is filed.

Robert Donin is general counsel for Dartmouth College. Donin says Dartmouth has also stepped up its effort to let students know illegal file sharing is a bad idea.

(Donin) “We’ve quite recently put up on the college’s Web site a Web page that is devoted specifically to peer to peer file sharing.”

(Zind) Neither Dartmouth nor the University of Vermont monitors how their Internet networks are used, but the record industry routinely monitors Web sites where file sharing occurs.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

Comments are closed.