Stranger Fruit

Piracy at ASU. Aaaar.

A couple of quick comments on this article:

Arizona State University is among the nation’s top offenders when it comes to students illegally downloading music, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

The organization has sent ASU more than 300 notices identifying students involved with the illegal activity…

ASU ranks among the country’s 25 top university offenders regarding piracy.

This is not really surprising. ASU has an enrollment in the region on 60,000 students making it currently the second largest university in the country. 300 is probably a relatively small number of “offenders” – for example, Ohio (the largest school by only 500 students) and Purdue have both received over 1,000 notices. University of Nebraska (Lincoln), University of Tennessee, University of South Carolina, Michigan State, and U Mass Amherst – all significantly smaller schools – received more notices.
So if anything, ASU students are being relatively honest!

“We’re trying to help an industry survive,” association president Cary Sherman said. “Since 1999, we’ve gone from a $15 billion industry to an $11 billion industry and falling rapidly. You can’t have a marketplace if people don’t get paid for their work.”

I’m not commenting on this beyond wishing that the artists – rather than the RIAA flunkies – got more of the $11 billion.

“We respond aggressively to reports we get from the RIAA of this kind of activity,” said Adrian Sannier, ASU vice president and university technology officer. “We monitor our network to find places where students are using universities’ resources to serve up illegal music to students or people around the world. We work quickly to shut down that act.”

But some students say taking away a student’s use of the Internet is too harsh a punishment for illegally downloading.

“The university is supposed to provide that service – using the Internet. They shouldn’t police it,” said Ben Edwards, a political science junior.

Lauren Sanders, a junior majoring in public relations,agreed.

“I don’t think the university has a right to police students,” she said. “That’s like invading privacy in my opinion if it’s the student’s laptop.”

Firstly, no one is invading the privacy of anyone’s laptop. But more importantly, students have got to realize that ASU’s network and bandwidth is meant for academic use (being paid for by the state of Arizona). It’s not meant for selling stuff, collecting porn, or pirating music & software – all of which slow down the access for legitimate users. Indeed, students agree to these restrictions when using the system. So Ben Edwards and Lauren
Sanders need to realize what the provided service is actually for. If they don’t like it, then they need to get an alternative provider.

And none of this is meant to justify the tactics of the RIAA.