Solution to stop file sharing is simple

Last Thursday, the Akron Beacon Journal ran a story that concerned Kent State with the headline “KSU rises to top 20 of music industry.” We got excited, too. Our school hit number 17 in the nation.

But the story and the headline weren’t referring to positive accomplishments made by the university. No, we were ranked as the 17th biggest college offender of illegally downloading music.

In a recent report by the Recording Industry Association of America, this trade group of the largest music labels compiled 15,000 complaints from the top 25 colleges and universities with student offenders so far this school year, as reported by the Beacon. That’s triple the complaints of illegal downloads from last school year.

Kent State received the second highest number of complaints in Ohio with 424, being trumped only by the No. 1 ranked Ohio University, which received 1,287 complaints. A single complaint was an accusation that a student was sharing a single song over the campus Internet network.

At this university, as a means of punishment for illegally downloading a song, students get their Internet blocked, must watch a video on music piracy and take a quiz on the video. The students with large file-sharing offenses often face a lawsuit.

“This is one of the biggest thorns in our sides,” Paul Albert, executive director of information services, told the Beacon. “We knew our number was going up quite a bit, but we didn’t know we’d broken the top 20.”

Ah, yes. Who would have thought a video and quiz wouldn’t stop such a heinous crime? What shock that we are one of the biggest offenders!

It’s unfair that Kent State does not have an educational system in place that would deter illegal file-sharing in the residence halls before such acts even happen and then expects its students not to download illegally. Albert and his buddies can easily pull the “thorn” out of their sides with the simple solution of education.

The problem is that a lot of students are unaware of what constitutes as piracy or an illegal download or a file share. A slap on the wrist after the crime has happened isn’t going to prevent it. Kent State can’t expect us to not put that thorn there if we don’t know what we are doing.

Maybe Kent State wouldn’t have such a big headache if it educated its students about such dangers. Come on, how hard would it be to cram 20 minutes of information into those sometimes worthless orientation classes about the file-sharing problem and how students can recognize if they are breaking the law. Those kinds of steps to remove Kent State from this top 20 list would also give the university more right to punish those who violate the policies. There also should be more information available in the residence halls where most of the violations are taking place.

Not addressing the problem until our school makes an embarrassing top 20 list is unfair to students, not to mention unfair to the recording industry, which is depending on the universities to help stop the problem – especially when a step toward a solution is so simple.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.