Tech Tuesday: Peer to peer media sharing on the rise?

Tech Tuesday: Peer to peer media sharing on the rise?

From Information Resources and Technologies

There was a sharp rise in Recording Industry Association of America complaints against UST students in March.

UST and the RIAA
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) represents various recording labels and seeks out people who illegally share music files through peer to peer file sharing applications such as Gnutella and BitTorrent. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) performs a similar role representing film and video entities.

Last year UST received 122 complaints for the entire school year and was on pace to come in well below that number this year. Recently, however, we have received over 60 complaints for this month alone. It is not known whether the spike in the number of complaints represents an increase in illegal file sharing by UST students, increased scrutiny by the RIAA or both.

The framework for these complaints comes from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The DMCA outlines the rights and responsibilities of copyright holders and service providers. The act also requires that the university provide a publicly listed point of contact to receive and handle copyright complaints for computers connected to our network.

IRT serves as that point of contact. Under the DMCA the university is required to take action when a complaint is received regarding a copyright violation. When IRT receives a DMCA complaint we gather the basic information and turn the incident over to the Dean of Students’ Office disciplinary process. In the case of a repeat offense, IRT will temporarily block network access until the issue is resolved.

In most cases, complaint letters from the RIAA represent what is essentially a “cease and desist” request. There have been cases, though, at other universities where the RIAA filed suit against students or attempted to have students settle out of court to avoid a law suit.

Sharing copyright protected music and video files not only puts you at legal risk from organizations such as the RIAA but also can put your computer at risk. Many peer to peer networking applications can make your computer vulnerable to viruses and spyware.

There are many low-cost options available for accessing your favorite music or video materials, including iTunes, Rhapsody and Netflix to name just a few. Using these legal services will help ensure that you get a high-quality product. You also will avoid legal and financial risks that come with using tools that violate copyright laws. And lastly, they will make you a better UST net citizen by reducing your overall risk for spreading computer viruses, making better use of our shared connection to the Internet, adhering to the Responsible Use Policy, and reducing the amount of time our support staff is required to spend following up on copyright violation complaints.

For more information about peer to peer media sharing contact the Tech Desk, (651) 962-6230.