There is no ‘Magic’ here

NW Staff and NW Staff

When NMU students first signed on to the Northern wireless network in the 2007-2008 school year, their laptops were sending out more than just instant messages and Facebook wall posts.
For the first time at NMU, information was being sent to a program on the campus server that monitors illegal downloading of copyrighted material. The program, Audible Magic, had been implemented in early August by a combined effort of Northern’s administration and Director of Technical Services Dave Maki. Audible Magic was given a trial run during the 2007 winter semester because NMU was spotlighted as a problem university by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The added attention from the RIAA was due to high volumes of illegal downloads on campus. As of March 1, 2007, Northern ranked 16th nationwide for illegally downloading music on college campus networks, according to a list compiled by the RIAA. Northern was considered a top copyright violator, with 457 complaints.
And now, Northern has shelled out $20,000 to pay for a program that’s main goal is to protect students from themselves.
This attempt to eradicate peer-to-peer illegal downloading is due entirely to the actions of NMU’s students. NMU is forced to play the role of parent to a student body who should be capable of making adult decisions.
Since early August, the program has recorded 258 incidents of illegal downloading on NMU’s network. Of the 258 occurrences, 56 were second offenses, meaning students are either not learning from their mistakes or receiving too lenient of punishment. By first-time offenders merely having to re-register their computers, experiencing only a slight inconvenience, the university shows little discipline for this illegal act. Second-time offenders are only disconnected from the network for 48 hours, yet they are still able to access all NMU Web sites required for classes
When it takes three offenses for a student to be properly reprimanded, then the university is sending a mixed message.
Moreover, with an issue that catapulted to the top of the university’s agenda last semester, it’s a wonder why students have continued these actions, or what’s more, thought they could get away with them.
While a simple e-mail or re-registration of a laptop may not drive fear into students, perhaps an eventual lawsuit from the RIAA would.