Between paying for school, food and many other things, most students will take the opportunity to save a dollar. But is saving money justification for illegal downloading?
According to a survey in October from TorrentFreak, Penn State was 25th on a list of 50 universities in the United States for the greatest usage of BitTorrent, with 381 hits since November 2011.
TorrentFreak is a website and blog dedicated to writing articles on copyright and piracy news.
TorrentFreak used ScanEye to obtain the information from almost 500 U.S. universities, Ernesto Van Der Sar, Chief Editor of TorrentFreak, said. Massachusetts Institute of Technology and non-universities were not included in the survey.
Almost all the hits included on this survey from BitTorrent were illegally shared content, Van Der Sar said.
“There is plenty of legal content available on BitTorrent. However, a quick glimpse at the most downloaded content reveals that unauthorized sharing is relatively popular,” according to TorrentFreak.
BitTorrent, based in San Francisco, Calif., serves about 160 million users monthly and moves 20 to 40 percent of all Internet traffic daily, Executive Director of Marketing for BitTorrent Matt Masonsaid.
BitTorrent’s purpose is creating software and technology that helped people find, move and share digital media over the Internet, according to CrunchBase. This technology was created to move large files quickly and effectively.
Although BitTorrent was not created for the illegal downloading of files, because of its nature, consumers started using it for that purpose, Mason said.
BitTorrent has been trying to fight against the illegal use of their system, but it is almost impossible, Mason said.
“We can’t see who is using it to do what,” Mason said.
BitTorrent has started working with music industries and other companies that have been hurt by their technology. The company has been trying to encourage consumers to buy products off iTunes and other labels, Mason said. This past year, BitTorrent has provided 124 million legal downloads, Mason said.
But still the illegal downloading is “not something you can really control,” Mason said.
Retired Verve Music Group Chairman Emeritus Tommy LiPuma said the music industry is in the worst condition ever as a result of sharing files.
“Young people convinced themselves they were not stealing. This is how a lot people make a living,” LiPuma said.
LiPuma has produced 29 gold and platinum records, has more than 30 Grammy nominations and three Grammy awards, according to Verve Music Group. LiPuma has worked with artists from Barbra Streisand to Diana Krall .
LiPuma said as a result from the increase in illegal downloading of music, his royalties decreased about 75 percent.
Illegal downloading does not only affect the artist or producers but also many other companies ranging from the recording studio to the packaging companies that are connected to the creation of a CD, LiPuma said.
Matt Jackson, associate professor and head of the Department of Telecommunications at Penn State, said the survey results should not harm Penn State’s reputation, and the results are not surprising considering Penn State is such a large university.
Penn State cooperates with copyright owners in trying to reduce illegal downloading, and the university’s punishments are fairly strict, Jackson said.
Kathy Kimball, senior director of security operations and services for Information Technology Services, said the copyright holder notifies Penn State of the illegal activity that is happening on Penn State’s network. ITS identifies the user information based on log information, Kimball said.
Log information is the record of when users log in to their Access account. The copyright holder gives the time and the specific network address of the infringement to Penn State’s Security Operations and Services of ITS. ITS uses this information and the log information to find the individual who was responsible for the illegal activity, Kimball said.
Once the user is identified, the network that the user used to download the copyright information is disabled for the user, Kimball said. Next, students are referred to Office of Student Conduct, and employees of the university are referred to the Office of Human Resources, Kimball said.
First-time offenders have to learn the copyright law and the university policy, then the offenders have to pass an online quiz, Kimball said. Finally, the illegally downloaded material has to be removed from the computer, Kimball said. After this process, the offenders can get their connection reactivated, Kimball said.
Repeat offenders have heightened punishments determined by the OSC, Kimball said.
According to Penn State’s Privacy and Legal Statements, the copyright holder’s Recording Industry Association of America or the Motion Picture Association of America could file a lawsuit against the students.
In a very serious situation, students can be charged as a criminal, according to Penn State’s Privacy and Legal Statements.
However, Penn State cannot have control over the illegal downloading that happens off campus because students use a different server, Jackson said.
New York University ranked second on the TorrentFreak survey with 986 hits.
According to NYU Information Technology Services, when an infringement is reported to the university, the students receive an email with the complaint from the copyright holder. The student is expected to review NYU’s copyright policies and provide confirmation in writing that the student agrees to follow the policies.
If the student chooses to ignore the email and fails to contact the university, their network connection is temporarily taken away.
Illegally downloading material has become common, especially in a college setting but the majority of students fail to realize the consequences of their actions.
“It is not right. It is not fair,” LiPuma said.