Piracy on Eastern network taken seriously

At the word piracy, what comes to mind first? Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean?

The last picture that comes to most minds is the unauthorized duplication and/or distribution of music that includes illegal downloading, file sharing and CD-burning.

When it comes to downloading from the Internet, there are many gray areas on what is legal and illegal. To be as technical as possible, downloading copyrighted material without expressed permission is illegal. Such material, in most cases music, must be purchased in order to be legal.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) programs like KaZaa, LimeWire, Bear Share and Aimster essentially allow users to share music with one another without storing music files in their file servers. Their technology allows one to locate a specific file on another user’s machine.

After talking with some Eastern students on the topic of downloading, it can be seen that almost all of them have attempted to use some type of peer-to-peer networking program.

Each student had the same complaint: It’s always so slow trying to download songs, I usually just give up and wait until I go home for a weekend.

According to Eastern’s policy on computing and network ethics, “The use of peer-to-peer networking, or other file-sharing technology, while not in itself a violation, may become a violation if in the opinion of the University it places an undue burden on University resources, or is used in violation of copyright laws, or in violation of local, state or federal statutes.”

According to Mike Sanker, the network systems and web administrator for administrative computing, Eastern has ways of controlling copyright infringement on the campus network. “The University uses a product called Packeteer for controlling bandwidth per application,” Sanker said.

As mentioned on its website, Packeteer distinguishes the difference between each website or program the network processes and places it onto a slower bandwidth, thus inhibiting illegal downloads on the network.

Sanker said that it takes administrative computing a while to identify and update Packeteer to recognize new programs that have surfaced; it does not just identify them automatically.

While the policy on computing and network ethics only specifically states that the “accessing or downloading of obscene/pornographic images or text” is prohibited, many things that students try to get away with on the network, for example music downloading and software sharing, are considered illegal.

When asked how Eastern deals with issues involving pornography, misuse and viruses, Sanker said, “We are developing an intrusion detection system that will help Eastern track abuse and misuse.”

As stated in Eastern’s Student Handbook, “The University reserves the right to suspend, without notice, the network access privileges of any user who is believed to be in violation of this policy, pending investigation and review.”

When it comes to placing disciplinary action upon any network violations, Sanker said it is quite difficult to charge a specific person in many of these violations, since 99.9 percent of the time administrative computing can not be 100 percent sure who was doing the specific violation.

Administrative computing only restricts access to sites that are solely used for illegal actions.

“I’ve heard rumors that [we] restricted access to Facebook and Myspace,” said Sanker. “That is completely untrue – there’s nothing illegal going on with those sites. So why restrict them?”

For more information on how downloading can affect you legally go to www.riaa.com.

Legal Alternatives for Downloading Music

Service Pricing Songs Available
iTunes $0.99/track 1,500,000+
MSN Music $0.99/track 1,000,000+
Napster to Go $0.99/track 1,000,000+
$13.95/month Subscription
Rhapsody $0.89-0.99/track 1,000,000+
$9.99/month Subscription
Yahoo! Music $0.79-$0.99/track 1,000,000+

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