Audible Magic arrives at NMU

jackie.stark and jackie.stark

A program that detects illegal downloading was permanently installed in early August, and has detected 258 infractions, 56 of which were second-time offenses, and 5 of which were third.

Offenders lose access to NMU’s network, with the exception of WebCT, NMU e-mail accounts, the library homepage, and other school resources, said Dave Maki, director of technical services.

The $20,000 program, Audible Magic, was first used on a trial basis in Winter 2007. It’s designed to prevent illegal downloading of copyrighted materials, Maki said, adding that any legal downloading won’t be hindered.

“A lot of peer-to-peer to traffic is legitimate. We don’t want to stop all the traffic,” he said.

Copyrighted material has a symbol attached to it, much like that of a water mark on a dollar bill, Maki said. So, if a person is illegally downloading copyrighted material, the program will be able to detect the “water mark,” and de-register the IP address of the computer being used to download the material, he added.

Once Audible Magic detects an infraction, the program automatically e-mails the student whose computer is being used, letting him or her know that the computer is de-registered.

At the same time, it logs the name of the copyrighted material, the protocol being used, the IP address of the computer and the time and date of the infraction, Maki said.

NMU ranked 16 among college campuses with the most illegal downloads nationwide in the 2006-2007 academic year.

The RIAA has received settlements from 20 Northern students, totalling $3,000 in fines, Maki said.

In the first two weeks of the 2006 fall semester, NMU received 45 outside complaints, meaning that students were being caught downloading illegally by an organization outside the university.

Only 12 outside complaints were logged during the first two weeks of the 2007 fall semester.

Illegal downloads account for gigabytes of bandwidth over Northern’s network, Maki said. “A lot of bandwidth is wasted for an activity that is against NMU’s policies,” he said.

First-time offenders must re-register their computers in order to regain their internet access. Second-time offenders are not allowed to re-register their computers for 48 hours.

Third-time offenders are not allowed to re-register their computers for 60 days, and are cited for violating the student code of conduct. They must also make an appointment with the associate dean of students to discuss the violation. The student can then accept or deny the charges, said Chris Greer, dean of students.

If the student accepts the violation, he or she is put on disciplinary probation anywhere from one semester to one year, she said, If the student denies the charge, a hearing is held before the All Student Judiciary, which will make a ruling on the case.NMU’s policies,” he said.

First-time offenders must re-register their computers in order to regain their Internet access. Second-time offenders are not allowed to re-register their computers for 48 hours.

Third-time offenders are not allowed to re-register their computers for 60 days, and are cited for violating the student code of conduct. They must also make an appointment with the associate dean of students to discuss the violation. The student can then accept or deny the charges, said Chris Greer, dean of students.

If the student accepts the violation, he or she is put on disciplinary probation anywhere from one semester to one year, she said, If the student denies the charge, a hearing is held before the All Student Judiciary, which will make a ruling on the case.