Four incidences of copyright infringement have occurred on the BYU-Idaho network this year.
Penalties for individuals who are caught illegally downloading material online could face a $150,000 fine per infringement.
Nate Wise, the digital content/intellectual property rights specialist on campus, receives notices when an illegal download has occurred.
Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, BYU-I has to act expeditiously to identify the offending user, remove the offending content and educate the user about legal alternatives..
“This year it has been pretty quiet, so it’s been pretty good. We’re not at the level of some universities that get hundreds of notices about illegal downloads,” Wise said.
When a notice is received about illegal downloads, the Information Security Office can track the offenders through timestamps and IP addresses. There are certain guidelines that need to be followed by the university when a letter is received to handle the problem.
“If we don’t adhere to it and do our best effort on trying to educate, and you might say, capture those that are infringing on copyright, then there is a potential in losing government funding at the education institution level,” said Dough Thompson, an information security officer on campus.
Most illegally downloaded media on the Internet is obtained through peer-to-peer websites. BYU-I allows peer-to-peer sites on its Web service for educational purposes.
Though copyrighted materials should not be downloaded through peer-to-peer networks, professors can use copyrighted materials in classroom settings.
The Classroom use Exemption allows the use of downloaded works for teachers to use but the exemption does not cover the use of “distributing or making any copies, or showing things in any other environment than an in-person one,” according to www.byui.edu/copyright. “The Technology Education and Copyright Harmonization Act allows educators to perform or display copyrighted works in distance education environment.”
In 2010, 227 notices sent to BYU for illegally downloaded materials, but BYU also provides Internet to off-campus housing. Wise said that if BYU-I also provided Internet to off-campus housing, the numbers might increase.
Because students have Internet access in their apartments, complex owners are in charge of managing problems with illegal downloading.
“Our biggest thing is to educate,” Thompson said. “You hate to say it, but anybody would like to get something for free … and it’s not just students really, it’s everybody.”
Thompson encourages students to use common places to buy music and movies such as Microsoft and iTunes.
“You’re better off just to pay a buck for a song and it’s yours instead of trying to do something different,” Thompson said.