Students told to uninstall software

Lindsey Reed

Cameron Knight, a junior from Middletown, Ohio, didn’t know he’d be uninstalling his iMesh file-sharing program – until he received an unpredicted phone call.

Network computing and communications left Knight a message on Monday informing him that he was on record for sharing files.

The message told him to uninstall his file-sharing program immediately.

He uninstalled iMesh the next day.

Western officials are contacting students who are sharing copyrighted files to keep them from being sued by entertainment industry groups.

The students are being told to uninstall their file-sharing programs or risk losing their university network connection, said Dave Beckley, director of network computing and communications.

The Recording Industry Association of America is able to find file-sharers through their IP address, RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy said. The RIAA then sends e-mails to universities warning that they may follow-up with a lawsuit against the file-sharer.

Western has been getting such e-mails from the RIAA and the Motion Picture Association of America, network security specialist Brandon Vincent said.

Beckley said the industry groups are usually interested in people who are not just downloading copyrighted material, but allowing others to upload such files.

The number of e-mails from industry groups are increasing, he said.

The industry groups usually sue people who have an average of 850 mp3 files downloaded, Lamy said.

The first time network services calls a student serves as a warning, Vincent said.

“It’s their responsibility to take care of that problem,” Vincent said.

If a student fails to uninstall the file-sharing program, their network connection can be temporarily taken down until the student takes action, he said.

“The piracy is particularly acute on a college campus,” Lamy said.

RIAA likes to collaborate with universities in a productive manner, he said.

After contacting the university, the industry groups can request information about the network user, Lamy said. They may decide to issue a subpoena to the service provider to obtain records.

The university has not yet had to turn personal information over to any of the organizations, Beckley said.

Knight said he would like to keep a file-sharing program but not download copyrighted files.

Jeppie Sumpter, network services engineer, said companies usually concentrate on users with many files, but students with a few are still vulnerable.

“One file is just as illegal as many files,” Sumpter said.

Sumpter said many students on campus are still sharing files, and it causes problems with Western’s bandwidth.

The legal penalty for illegal file-sharing ranges from $750 to $150,000, Lamy said. The average settlement is $3,000 per person.

Reach Lindsey Reed at [email protected]