Whether convenience, ease or lack of money is the reason, illegally downloading music has become popular all over the world.
Students are granted free Internet access at Central Michigan University, but it is made clear that illegal use is not permitted, and that includes illegal music downloads. Despite the warnings, some students have discovered their own methods for retrieving the desired multimedia.
Charles V. Park Library desk employee and Brighton junior William Joseph understands how students think they can work around the system.
“It’s probably easier to remain more anonymous on this server or at the library with the amount of student users. Besides, at the library, there is public access without a cmich username needed,” Joseph said.
Joseph said while students think their chances of getting caught are smaller, eventually perpetrators get caught.
“The student committing the illegal download as an individual does not get directly notified. But the server as a whole does, which tracks back to the CMU library,” Joseph said. “Eventually they track them down. It’s just a matter of time.”
Illegal downloading is indeed a crime, one which the Office of Information Technology does everything in its power to prevent.
OIT Communications Manager Kole Taylor said visiting illegal sites is not the problem, but the transmission of files from the website to the students’ desktop is.
“Uploading, downloading, streaming or retention of these copyrighted files is the illegal activity,” Taylor said. “Any site that provides this capability should be avoided if the student is unsure if his or her activity is legal.”
Taylor said the idea of getting something for free is an enticing proposition for students, but the risk associated with illegal downloading is not worth the gamble.
“I suppose the most enticing part to students is that it is free,” he said. “However, with the potential for hefty legal fees, there is a good chance that it will cost far more in the long run. It’s just not worth it.”
One CMU student was caught by the university in spring 2013 after illegally downloading the movie ‘Taken 2.” This student, who asked to remain anonymous for privacy reasons, said they downloaded illegally to not feel left out.
“I really like knowing what movies, songs and artists are good so I can share them with other people, and so I can feel like I’m not missing out on any of it,” the student said. “However, I cannot afford all of the movies and music that I need in order to be worldly. Because of this, I downloaded everything illegally first, and then I buy all of the best movies and albums.”
Within 24 hours of the download, the student received an email from CMU reporting that Twentieth Century Fox had traced the activity back to the CMU server.
“The email said that I needed to immediately remove the file from my computer, and that if I failed to do so or if I ever used their server to download something illegally again, they would tell Twentieth Century Fox who did it and I would be in trouble for it,” the student said.
Taylor said consequences for downloaders vary, but nothing good can come of it.
“If the copyright holder decides to pursue litigation, the court fees and fines are very likely to be in the range of thousands of dollars,” he said. ”In some cases, the copyright holder may pursue prosecution. In addition, the university retains the right to take additional corrective action toward the student.”