Read, B. (2003). Film Studio Sends Hundreds of Letters to Colleges, Alleging Illegal Downloading. (Alexx)

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[[Film Studio Sends Hundreds of Letters to Colleges, Alleging Illegal Downloading

Alexx Colley-Reynolds

There is a major problem within universities and colleges around the world who are a part of illegal downloading media content. Campus technology personnel are trying to find ways to comply with copyright laws after a major studio increased pressure on students who are illegally downloading movies. The studio has issued a numerous amount of cease-and-desist orders to those downloading illegally. On February 28, 2003 Universal studios lodged e-mail complaints with a number of institutions. In the e-mail Universal cited the IP addresses of the computers that shared their content illegally. All campus administrators were given a list of the machines under question and they said that the list was lengthy.

The University of Maryland was notified that 155 machines on campus were taking part in illegal activity. The University of Wisconsin had to investigate 127 machines. The e-mail notification that was sent to these institutions were more extensive than those previously sent. When looking at an average day of illegal downloading allegations, the University of Maryland receives about two to three. This estimation comes from the Maryland’s director of information technology planning and policy, Rodney J. Petersen.

It is hard for each of the universities personnel to comply with the large amount of cease-and-desist orders because they have to handle each one individually. The process is not complicated by any means. The campus network administrators must track down the IP address to specific computers and they have to ask the machine owner if have taken part in illegal downloading. The network administrators say that many of the owners admit that they have taken part in the illegal downloading but many of the administrators are cautious in the disciplinary actions against the owners because many of the owners’ computers may have been used by friends or have been breached remotely.

At both of the institutions, Maryland and Wisconsin, they provide the accused students with the information about copyright laws and their campus’ fair-use policy. After that the institutions provide them with Universal’s cease-and-desist order.

According to the spokesperson for Wisconsin, it is a lot of work to track down each of the offenders. By noon time of the 28th, they had only contacted 12 machine owners out of 127 machines cited by Universal. It was also noted that some of the computers that were taking part in the illegal download did not all just belong to students. The spokesperson for Wisconsin also said that some faculty and staff members may also be taking part in illegally downloading movies.

The cease-and-assist orders came as a surprise to university officials as they got no warning or notification about Universal’s plans. However, the president of Pennsylvania State University, said that they received a notification from the Recording Industry of America that they planned on intensifying the copyright policies. This is a notification that universities should follow as Universal studios is just one of many movie studios that may play to sue and carry out legal action in regards to legal downloading.

Universities need to enforce downloading laws for a number of reasons. It is to protect not only themselves, but also their students as well. In the late days of February 2003, the University of Texas was hacked and the hackers were able to seize 55,200 individual Social Security numbers. This is one of the largest known hacks to ever effect a campus network. It was more than just current students and faculty that were affected, but it was former students and other former employees that were affected too. This even included job applicants. It is still unknown who the attackers were. It is also unknown if they used the information to gather credit card information to buy merchandise illegally.

The information was accessed during a routine system check. When it was discovered that the system was breached, the database was immediately taken offline. It was the main priority of the university to identify the main source of the attack and work with law-enforcement to find the perpetrators, along with any associated computers. In conclusion, the University openly said that it was their fault the attack happened due to lax computer security. ]]

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