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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Be careful what you download, says admin

Published: August 31, 2007
Section: Opinions

In a recent article on, journalist Gil Kaufman analyzed a trend that has occurred around college campuses: efforts on the part of the administration to crack down on the number of illegal downloads that would lead to lawsuits against students for copyright infringement. Brandeis students are not immune to these lawsuits, and new actions are being taken by the administration to remedy these problems.

Even since this past June, 15 Brandeis students were sued for this offense, with requested sums of hundreds to even several thousands of dollars from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Brandeis is attempting to get in students faces on the importance of this issue this year, as Kaufman asserts, as administrators are now trying to get their message across during orientation with a series of digital self-defense lectures. These lectures carry names begging students to take caution, like Dont Get Sued, and are supposed to be part of an ongoing series throughout the entire school year. Sure, for many this is just another scare tactic and something that might be taken lightly. But the fact of the matter is, the administration does have a point. There are plenty of ways to hear a song legally for little to nothing, and plenty of ways to watch the latest episode of Ugly Betty legally for free.

In fact, some colleges are even attempting to distribute a service to students that will legally fulfill their needs and also cut down on high bandwidth usage to create a better overall network on campus with less chance of a security breach.
UMass-Amherst points its students towards Ruckus, a platform that allows students to download content for free due to the revenue created by ads. This service has now been implemented in at least 130 schools. Like when Facebook (or the extinct file sharing service i2hub) was launched, only students with a valid .edu email address could sign up for the free service. Boasting over 2 million tracks, and the ability to download an entire album in less than a minute, this service might strike some as too good to be true. Students even have the ability to download movies. Of course, there are some restrictions that are imposed, such as where media can be played, but Ruckus certainly seems to be a step in the right direction. Founder David Galpers lecture at Brandeis this past January in Lemberg only seems to further showcase the strong warnings of the Brandeis administration.

The attempt to cut down on illegal downloading has even reached a point where some students have been given free accounts to some paid services, such as Napster. At Napster, students can listen to whatever music they want legally on demand, creating less of a need for the use of illegal services. In addition, there are a number of free services that already exist that offer a legal way of hearing music or watching videos, such as ABCs Full Episode Player, which offers full episodes of shows with a few ads placed throughout the program, or places like the Hype Machine and, which aggregate many MP3s from various music blogs. These are just a few of the many examples.

Though you may be sick of hearing the phrase, Dont download illegally, its stealing, or whatever variation of the phrase you may hear, take heed and consider that there are viable alternatives. Often it is not a matter of spending or not spending money, but rather going to one place instead of another. It could create a safer and better network for everyone at Brandeis, as well as a way to personally ensure that no repercussions will occur in the future.