CTS warns about copyright laws

An e-mail was sent out last week to Oswego State residential students about copyright infringement. According to Lisa Evanesk, director of Judicial Affairs, there have been about 250 cases of copyright infringement that have passed through the Office of Judicial Affairs over the past three years.

Joseph Moreau, chief technology officer, said that the e-mail is part of an annual effort to inform students about illegal Internet activities.

"It’s not a gigantic problem for this campus, we have a well-informed student body," Moreau said.

According to Matthew Perez, network technician for CTS, complaints about copyright infringement are usually received via e-mail from the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America, or some entity on behalf of these industries.

After receiving an e-mail, CTS validates the claim and the Internet access of that user is shut off. When the student attempts to log-on to the Internet, a notification is displayed saying that their Internet has been turned off for violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act [DMCA]. The student must then meet with CTS staff to discuss the issue.

According to Evaneski, if a student is documented for a second violation, CTS contacts the judicial office where a Disciplinary Conference is held. The outcome of this hearing depends on the student’s judicial history and in many cases the student will lose access to the Internet for the semester. The student is also given an educational assignment on the highlights of the DMCA. Most of these cases would include a status of Disciplinary Probation for a period of up to one year.

In the fall semester of 2008, the number of violations on campus was about 100. For the spring of 2009, the number was about 45, about 50 for fall of 2009 and about 40 for spring of 2010.

"It comes in waves sometimes," Perez said. "Hopefully the things that we’re doing on our side are helping."

According to the Higher Education Opportunity Act, all colleges and universities must let students know what they can and cannot do legally, and let them know what the legal alternatives are.

Residential students must take a quiz about copyright infringement prior to receiving access to the Internet in residential halls. Students are asked a series of questions about sharing files, downloading music, watching videos and what is considered legal and illegal. To gain access students are required to get at least eight out of the ten questions correct.

"We have a responsibility to educate students about what is acceptable and what is not, " Moreau said.