The perils of illegal downloading

Home Headline The perils of illegal downloading


Staff Writer

According to the University of Rochester, 80 percent of Americans view stealing a DVD from a store as a serious crime. At the same time, 40 percent of Americans view downloading movies illegally as a serious crime. But there is no difference between these crimes. Illegally downloading a DVD or a CD from the Internet is the same as snatching the DVD or CD from a store.

Some may view illegal downloading as harmless.

“People [think] that they can steal these movies because they’re in digital form; there is no physical form of the movie that they can hold on to,” said Chris Wiest, a senior management information systems major at the University of North Dakota.

A Web site called Campus Downloading says that illegal downloading presents serious issues for college campuses because of the excessive use of bandwidth and the time needed to respond to infringement notices.

North Central’s technical support recently received such a notice from SafeNet. Columbia Pictures had not granted the student permission to distribute several movies. The e-mail stated that North Central should disable access to the student who committed the crime, as well as terminate any accounts this student has with North Central.

“Most people think surfing the Web is anonymous; however, for the average computer user, this is not correct. Where you have gone on the Internet is logged on your computer, on North Central’s servers and firewalls, and on the systems at the sites you are accessing,” said Information Technology Director Mike Cappelli.

Peer-to-peer sharing, P2P, is a file-sharing technology that allows millions of computer users around the world to find and trade digital files with one another. By doing this, a person can download files with the click of a button, without any knowledge of where it is really coming from.

The concern with this is that anyone using this can access files on someone’s computer without the owner even knowing. Users can explore someone’s computer and possibly steal confidential files, financial information and professional data. Most P2P is used for transferring copyrighted music, movies and software.

Students can also pay penalties for illegal downloading. The criminal penalty for copyright infringement can be up to $250,000. A person can even face up to five years in prison.

“I think it would be horrible to have to pay that, but at the same time they can’t catch everyone, so I don’t worry about it too much,” said undeclared major freshman Liz Willer.

LimeWire is an example of an illegal downloading site, but students can use sites such as Apple, Amazon or Best Buy to download music legally. They can also take advantage of ABC, CBS and NBC and watch free episodes of shows on their Web
sites. Cappelli also suggests that students keep receipts for music and videos legally obtained from sites.