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College Rules! (And Regulations)

October 06, 2010

The school year has officially kicked off, and university newspapers are busily covering a variety of campus issues.  Near the top of the list are policies on using university networks to illegally download and upload copyrighted works.  In just the last week, three school newspapers -- Central Michigan University’s “Warnings, fines in store for students caught pirating music, movies on campus network,” University of Nevada, Reno’s “Students at risk for piracy lawsuits,” and University of Utah’s “U works to curb illegal downloading” -- have examined the issue. 

Each university has its own approach, and that’s how we think it should be.  There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy.  What’s key is a concerted, coordinated effort that utilizes a variety of technological and educational tools and makes clear there are risks when it comes to illegal downloading.  These articles in particular also illustrate a useful and noteworthy trend:  colleges stepping up their efforts and working hard to educate students about the law and enforce school policies when they are ignored.  That’s no doubt due in some measure to new federal rules that recently went into effect requiring every college and university to implement policies that address illegal file-sharing on their school network. 

The good news is that students remain some of the most avid music fans.  That’s a great thing.  Our ongoing challenge is to steer more of them toward licensed, legitimate services that reward artists and everyone else in the music food chain involved in creating that great song -- and away from illegal sites that clog university networks designed for legitimate academic purposes. 

We look forward to more campus reading to come and are always available to answer any questions students and reporters may have.