IU cracks down on illegal file sharing

IUS Horizon

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File sharing is taking its toll on IU Southeast students and their pocket books.

If students are caught file sharing, the consequences can range from large fines to permanently losing the privilege to access the IUS network via personal computer.

Larry Mand, vice chancellor of Information Technology and Community Involvement, said the danger with file sharing software is it sets itself up to share all of your software on the Internet.
“File sharing software turns your computer into an open source,” Mand said. “Anything on your computer is open to the world.”

Tom Prinz, manager of IT support services, said the Recording Industry Association of America and other copyright enforcement groups will track an IP address which has been linked with file sharing and send it to IUS and Information Technology Security Office.

“What happens is, if the RIAA ascertains an IP address, they have a way of tracking it down to campus,” Prinz said. “The RIAA contacts ITSO which sends the logon information to us and using the IP info, date and time, we can identify who the person is and send that info back to ITSO. ITSO will then send a complaint to the person who has shared files through our network.”
Mand said students can be fined $50 by IU.

“The University charges students, who receive a letter stating we had to turn their information over to the RIAA, $50 which is the cost of what we charge to find the information of that student,” Mand said. “The $50 is the least of a student’s problem because a pre-litigation settlement from the RIAA is sure to follow, which can cost a student, who has had a complaint against them, thousands of dollars.”

Merri Lavagnino, Indiana University policy officer, said the goal isn’t catching students who are file sharing but putting an end to the file sharing at the request of the copyright.

“The copyright has the right to pursue a resolution to get the file sharing stopped,” Lavagnino said.  “We use this opportunity, not so much to protect the copyrighted material but we use it as an opportunity to teach students why this complaint was made.”

Lavagnino said some file sharing may not be intentional.

“Part of the big problem with file sharing on the IU campuses is many students do not even realize they are doing it,” Lavagnino said. “When you download file sharing software onto your personal computer at home the file sharing software has a default setting which automatically file shares when you connect to the IUS network.”
Mand said a complaint from the RIAA begins the process of a pre-litigation settlement or possible court case.

“The pre-litigation settlement is an opportunity to settle before they take you to court,” Mand said. “Nobody to my knowledge has succeeded in court.”

Lavagnino said if a student receives a letter from IU the student can remedy the situation within 24 hours and only face the $50 fine from Indiana University. However, if a second or third complaint is made, the student must face disciplinary actions from Student Affairs.

“If you receive a notice and do what we ask in 24 hours, you will be fine. However if you take longer than 24 hours, your computer will be disabled from the IU network until you follow the procedure we have asked you to complete,” Lavagnino said. 

Lavagnino said when a student is notified of a complaint they must go to http://filesharing.iu.edu/ and go through the tutorial so they can be educated about file sharing and the consequences that come with it.  She also said if you receive a 2nd or 3rd complaint the consequences are more severe.

“If you receive a 2nd complaint you will be blocked from accessing the IUS Network on your personal computer for two weeks,” Lavagnino said. “If you receive a third complaint you lose the privilege to connect your personal computer to the IUS Network permanently. However, very rarely does anyone receive a 3rd complaint.”

Lavagnino said although a student may lose the privilege to connect via personal computer to the IUS network they can still use the computers in the computer labs. 

“If your computer is disabled, you still have your accounts and can still access the network through the computers in the computer labs,” Lavagnino said.

Mand said even though the situation can be taken care of with IUS it doesn’t remedy the situation with the RIAA and if you receive a letter notifying that $50 is owed to IUS you will most likely receive a pre-litigation settlement from the RIAA.

“The RIAA is a totally independent group of people,” Mand said. “So not only will you owe IUS $50 for the information we had to send back to ITSO, you are will most likely be sent a pre-litigation settlement stating you owe the RIAA thousands of dollars, and you are still in trouble with Student Affairs.

Lavagnino said the goal is to inform students to primarily use legal software to download music, movies, games and music which are listed on IU’s file sharing Web site.

“It is true you are one of an enormous population out there but if you get singled out it can be a very expensive mistake,” Mand said. “So the best thing to do is not get yourself in that situation.”

Prinz said he hopes students soon realize the gravity of  file sharing and the consequences that come with it.

“This is something that should not be taken lightly,” Prinz said.

Staff writer