File Sharer Denied Access to School Network

The University Journal

An SUU student who was caught sharing files illegally mid-February has been denied access to the campus network and placed on probation.

SUU administrators requested the student remain anonymous.

Marc Brandon, director of a professional Internet anti-piracy company called MediaSentry, sent an e-mail to SUU network services explaining that they had detected an illegal offer for “downloads of copyrighted motion picture(s) through a ‘peer-to-peer’ service.”

The student used the service to download Warner Bros.’ 2004 release, Alexander, said Jerry Carpenter, SUU manager of network infrastructure.

Neal Cox, dean of students, said they wasted no time taking action against the student.

“(Carpenter) traced it to (the individual) and immediately cut off (network) access,” he said. “(Carpenter) was in contact with (him) and I continue to be in contact with and meet with the student.”

Carpenter said in compliance with the requests made by Brandon, the student was denied access to the campus network, even to do homework.

“(The student) was really stressing about his homework and calling me every day with, ‘Can I do it yet? Can I do it yet?’” Carpenter said.

Carpenter said file sharing is illegal and SUU will not defend any student caught doing it.

“If a legal interest comes up, the campus will help pursue the offending party,” he said. “We will shut them down and take away their (network) access.”

File sharing is becoming easier and easier but students must realize that downloading free movies, music and software is illegal, Carpenter said.

MediaSentry said in the e-mail that downloading music, movies or software is in violation of the Copyright Act and individuals can be punished for copyright infringement.

Cox said he has dealt with at least two other similar situations in the past and that this one really woke them up.

“It got our attention and it got the student’s attention and we’d hope students would beware because there are certain negative repercussions,” he said.

Cox said this is a serious issue.

“The liable party is the university, so we take it very seriously,” he said.

Carpenter said in many cases, schools have been sued.

“I wouldn’t want to be the one responsible for the campus being sued, that’s for sure,” he said.

Cox said the student who was caught seemed remorseful and apologetic.

“I won’t be using (any such software) anymore,” the student wrote in an apology letter. “That legal notice scared me off. I will be telling all of my friends to steer clear of them, too.”

Cox said the student involved is brilliant and has tried to help him turn the situation into a positive outcome.

“I’ve tried to turn this for good and get him involved in Web design here on campus,” he said.

Any student caught downloading or uploading on campus can expect to have their network access revoked.

Carpenter said he wondered if students realize the risk of illegal file sharing.

“It may be fun, but is it worth the risk?” he asked.

Cox agrees that there is a lot to lose.

“It seems like so little gained for such a price,” Cox said.