Illegal downloading not an issue at MU

Division of Information Technology Director Terry Robb said file sharing is not a problem at MU.

Earlier this year, the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act were proposed by legislators to stop online piracy. Despite national controversy regarding piracy, Division of Information Technology Director Terry Robb said file sharing at MU is not an issue.

“We don't have a major problem at MU as we blocked peer-to-peer file sharing in 2007,” Robb said.

Sites such as Wikipedia and Craigslist shut down in protest against SOPA and PIPA. This widespread shutdown on Jan. 18 was known as ‘The Blackout.’

Megaupload, a site which allowed users to upload and transfer files that were too large for email, was shut down when the Motion Picture Association of America alleged that majority of the files on Megaupload were in violation of copyright laws.

In the wake of actions such as the closing of Megaupload, many sites such as YouTube have chosen to change their privacy policies.

At the beginning of fall semester 2011, Division of IT sent an email to students regarding the illegal downloading and streaming of movies, books or music.

“The university is required by law to educate its students annually on the seriousness of using illegal peer-to-peer file sharing and laws that help protect copyright, like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA),” the email stated.

The email explained usage of peer-to-peer programs, such as LimeWire and BitTorrent, on the school's network is prohibited by MU policy.

“This decision was made several years ago by student groups and university administrators in order to block illegal activity on the network," the email stated. "Students attempting to circumvent this block are in violation of university policy."

This email was sent a few months prior to the SOPA and PIPA news but not because of any widespread illicit problems.

“The university does not condone illegal activity, whatever it is,” Robb said. “As for downloading music or movies and violating the copyright, the university prohibits this activity in the Acceptable Use Policy.”

Residential Life Director Frankie Minor said the illegal downloading of music, books or movies does not directly involve Residential Life.

“Residential Life is not responsible for maintaining the campus computing network," Minor said in an email. "We do not have any direct responsibility for this. The Division of IT has primary responsibility for this, and they work with the Office of Student Conduct if a student may be violating the Acceptable Use Policy.”

In the case that a student is found downloading or streaming illegally using MU’s computer network, the email explains the university is then your Internet Service Provider. The DMCA requires ISP’s to take down or block access to copyrighted materials in a timely fashion.

Robb said students will lose network access for two or more weeks and are also required to take a course on the negative impacts of violating copyright laws, as well as pay an administrative fee.

“Of course, the artists are entitled for payment for their creative works, and therefore pay services are a good alternative when legitimate free services don't meet your needs,” Robb said.

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