Students who download music and movies illegally on WKU’s campus may want to think twice before continuing their actions.
Information Technology security analyst Brandon Vincent said sharing copyrighted material, such as music or movies, without the consent of the owner is a continuous problem the IT security office deals with.
“We’ve dealt with that for years out of this office,” Vincent said.
Using programs to share files that are intended to be free or aren’t copyrighted is not against the university policy, Vincent said, but the circumstances change when it comes to copyrighted material.
“We’re required by law to take action when we receive a copyright complaint from a copyright owner,” Vincent said.
IT does not actively seek out illegal activity but must do so if notified by copyright owners.
Vincent said sometimes students who use programs to download copyrighted material unknowingly distribute the copyrighted material after the initial download.
“Those file sharing programs in turn will turn around and share those files back out with everyone else on the Internet,” Vincent said.
Vincent said companies that own copyrighted material will look for those that are distributing the files illegally with special programs and will send a complaint letter to the IT security office if the activity is occurring on WKU’s network.
The company that sends the complaint gives the IT security office information to help them find the device that is distributing the files illegally, Vincent said. After the IT security office finds the device or user that is responsible for file sharing, action is taken.
“We redirect their traffic to a website that lets them know there’s been an incident and that we need to speak with them about it,” Vincent said.
Vincent said the IT security office will make sure that both the copyrighted file is deleted and the device is no longer sharing the file with others before removing the redirect.
Vincent said if the action is repeated a second time, the person will lose Internet access for one month, pay a $50 reconnection fee and must meet judicial affairs. If the action is repeated a third time, the person will lose Internet access for three months, pay a $100 reconnection fee and will meet with judicial affairs.
Howard Bailey, vice president for student affairs, said although he doesn’t deal with handling the consequences directly, illegal file sharing is a rare occurrence.
“It’s not something that happens a whole lot,” Bailey said.