Illegal downloading continues unabated

laura.mead and laura.mead

Despite the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) recent crackdown on illegal downloading, a survey found that 67 percent of college students are not concerned with the issue of illegal downloading and file sharing.

The survey was conducted by SurveyU, a Brooklyn-based group of technologists and researchers who are credited as experts in creating online surveys for college students.

Five hundred college students on campuses nationwide were interviewed by SurveyU over a two-day period in March.

Results showed that of these 500 students, 98 percent had illegally downloaded at least one song.

To help pinpoint illegal downloading happening at Northern, the university has been testing Audible Magic, a program that monitors illegal downloading and file-sharing.

Dave Maki, Northern’s Director of Technical Services, was in charge of running the program for the span of its two week test.

He found that one of the downfalls of the Audible Magic program is that it was more effective at identifying persons sharing files, than at blocking the actual sharing.

“Whether or not the program will be implemented at Northern is still under discussion,” said Maki.

He said that if the program is implemented, students identified as sharing files will have their Internet access taken away, even before they can get their first RIAA warning.

“We don’t want to have to protect (students) from themselves,” he said.

Students who receive warnings from the RIAA are mandated to meet with the Dean of students in order to reinstate their internet access.

Before their access is turned on, they must sign an agreement not to continue illegal downloading or file sharing.

“The issue is of great concern to us,” said Chris Greer, dean of students. “We provide the network that this is happening on, so we do feel responsible to a certain degree. In the end it’s (the students’) choice.”

Northern’s policy on copyright infringement is stated in the contract every student must sign before obtaining Internet access when they first come to Northern.

Maki said that if the university did decide to actively enforce this policy and use the Audible Magic program, it wouldn’t be until next fall.

Maki said that the university would want to be sure all students are fully informed about the program and the repercussions of illegal downloading before the program officially takes effect.