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SMC blocks student music downloading

Katherine Gale | Thursday, September 18, 2003

Downloading copyrighted music files off of the Internet has dramatically halted as Saint Mary’s students have come to understand the harsh repercussions of the illegal violation, one school official said.

Saint Mary’s Information Technology has taken steps to prevent the downloading by blocking access to many of the popular sharing and downloading services that distribute copyrighted materials without the artists’‚ or recording companies’‚ permission.

Their action, along with the RIAA’s threat to slap heavy fines on students choosing to share these copyrighted files, has so far served as a deterrent to Saint Mary’s students who previously took advantage of these online services.

Starting this fall, the school is taking new measures in dealing with students found to be violating the laws.

Students receiving cease-and-desist letters or subpoenas from the RIAA will have their network and Internet access blocked from their computers and their names will be sent to vice president of student affairs Linda Timm.

According to Kathy Hausman, Coordinator of Student Computing, students have been cooperating.

“Overall, the [initial] reaction for Saint Mary’s students has been, ‘How can I get in trouble for downloading music if it is free and on the Internet?’ Not everything on the Internet is legal,” she said, “and students need to be aware that their actions could have serious and possibly expensive consequences.”

Most students claimed that while they used to frequently download music files from their school computers, they now only do it from home.

“It’s understandable what [Saint Mary’s] is trying to do,” said junior Katie Larsen. “It was when I had a virus that wiped out not only my computer but a lot of other people’s that I regarded the school as being responsible for everyone on the network.”

Even with the risk of serious penalties, there remain students who find a way to continue downloading copyrighted material.

But nobody wanted to talk to The Observer on the record about why they would continue to download music for fear of getting punished.