Colleges Move To Lessen Music File-Swapping

Students arriving for fall classes at colleges across the country are facing technological hurdles and stern warnings aimed at ending swapping of music and movie files over high-speed campus Internet

Students arriving for fall classes at colleges across the country are facing technological hurdles and stern warnings aimed at ending swapping of music and movie files over high-speed campus Internet connections. Several of the universities are responding to a recording industry campaign to control the rampant copying of files over peer-to-peer networks.

Among other things, campuses are distributing brochures, running ads in student newspapers and devoting school Web pages to information on copyright infringement. Some are even using software to choke the amount of data that can flow in or out of a computer when students use KaZaA and other file-sharing programs.

"We're feeling a great deal of pressure as a result of what the entertainment industry is doing, and we're stepping up a lot of activities to address it," said Jim Davis, associate vice chancellor for information technology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The Recording Industry Association of America has filed hundreds of subpoenas against individuals suspected of trading massive amounts of copyrighted music. So far, at least 10 universities, including UCLA, have been served with subpoenas demanding they help identify targets of such suits, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group for online civil liberties.

Boston College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology argued successfully in court that the subpoenas were improperly filed in Washington, D.C. But the victory didn't preclude the RIAA from obtaining a subpoena from a Massachusetts court.

Despite such challenges, RIAA president Cary Sherman said he was gratified by the attention copyright violations are getting on campuses. "There's a world of difference this year than just a year ago in terms of the seriousness that universities are taking this issue," he said.

Last year, UCLA received dozens of notices every month from record companies and movie studios complaining about copyright violations. The school has been emphasizing the legal perils of file-sharing during student orientation this summer, Davis said. The message will be reinforced through E-mails to students and faculty when classes begin.

At the University of California, Berkeley, which received one subpoena request in August, students living in campus housing must undergo orientation on copyright infringement before getting a university Internet account.

The university is also limiting the amount of data students can send or receive over the Internet. Students have a five gigabyte weekly limit on uploading or downloading. If they exceed it twice, they can lose their Internet access. That amount would allow students to download four movies and 200 song files without going over the limit.

"There are a lot of legitimate reasons for file-sharing," said Bob Sanders, a UC Berkeley spokesperson. "There are a lot of [music files] out there that are not copyrighted. We wanted to give students room to use the Internet for what it was meant for, but we do want to emphasize to them that there are illegal uses."


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