One Loyola student just wanted some free music to add to his iTunes library in the summer of 2012. However, his decision to illegally download this music cost him more than the price of an album in fines and punishment under Loyola’s piracy policy.
Jeremy King, 21, said he took two summer classes before his freshman year at Loyola. He lived in Fordham, where he said he used the university wi-fi to download close to 50 albums in about two weeks, until one day he realized his Internet was not working. Loyola then sent an email to King saying his access to the school Internet had been restricted because he had illegally downloaded a copyrighted album.
King, now a junior, said Loyola charged him what he believes was a $75 fee. He was required to take an online course on piracy through Loyola and he said he was sent to talk to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution to get back his Internet access.
Online piracy involves illegally downloading or sharing files, specifically music, software and movies, according to Laws.com, a site focused on providing new legal products and services through technology. Such piracy involves copyright infringement, which is the violation of the rights of an owner to reproduce and distribute his or her work, according to Copyright Law of the United States. Such technological crime became a bigger issue as personal computers became more common.
For the Loyola community, illegal downloading is a problem among students and faculty alike.
There have been 22 actionable notices of copyright infringement brought to Loyola’s Information Technology Services (ITS) since the beginning of July, according to Jim Pardonek, Loyola’s information security officer. Actionable notices are notices sent by legitimate anti-piracy companies that requite the university to take action against the offender, according to Pardonek.
Such action is required under the Higher Education Opportunity Act, in which universities are required to educate their community on how they can use copyrighted material. Schools must remove any illegally shared work under this act.
Although ITS monitors Loyola’s network traffic in relation to file-sharing sites, according to the ITS page, punishment typically only occurs if Loyola is contacted about infringement. Though some schools actively block file-sharing software such as BitTorrent, these measures would be harmful to anyone using such software for legal purposes, according to Pardonek.
“I don’t necessarily see [more proactive measures] being worth the effort. There’s really no way to target that type of traffic without blocking legitimate uses of that … software,” said Pardonek. “We leave it up to the honesty and ethics of the individual.”
If Loyola receives actionable notices, the policy is to usually send the offender an email and “quarantine” his or her computer from accessing any non-Loyola sites, according to Pardonek. The offender must then remove illegal content and take an educational video and quiz about piracy via Sakai, he explained.
While anti-piracy companies have the right to request that Loyola release the name of the offender and take further legal action, Pardonek said this has never happened in his 10 years at Loyola.
Loyola uses the possibility of slowed Internet connection as one deterrent of illegal downloading. “Peer-to-peer file sharing applications and services … can generate so much network traffic that they adversely affect network performance for users who share the same local network,” according to Loyola’s (ITS) Web page. However, this is not typically the case, according to Pardonek.
“We generally don’t run into issues where someone’s computer use impacts someone else’s,” said Pardonek. “We try to make it as close to an at-home experience as possible.”
The music industry in particular has taken a loss from illegal downloading. NPD (formerly National Purchase Diary), a global information group, found that in 2009, just 37 percent of music acquired in the U.S. was legally purchased, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. About $12.5 billion is lost in the U.S. economy each year because of music piracy, according to a study by the Institute for Policy Innovation.
Although illegal downloading is still a problem, studies have shown such sharing is declining. The amount of people using peer-to-peer file sharing services to get their music decreased 17 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to NPD. The report credits the growing popularity of music streaming services such as Spotify for the decrease.
“I think that in this day and age … more people are using streaming services,” King said. “People don’t even really keep music on their actual computer.”
King, an information systems major, said he thinks the fee was a bit pricey and would have done things differently if he had known about Loyola’s policy on Internet use. However, he said the experience had changed his outlook on piracy.
“It actually did make me a little bit more conscious,” said King. “I started reconsidering … artists spend a lot of time and effort to create their art and music and … it’s almost not fair for people to get it for free when some people are paying for it.”