Students face penalties for illegal downloading
Published: Monday, January 28, 2013
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 10:01
An SFA student has received the first settlement letter for illegal downloading. Last fall, the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities fielded a settlement letter from a copyright company concerning a student illegally sharing a pirated movie on campus.
“Our major part in all of this is to keep that student from being sued,” Dr. Peggy Scott, director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, said. “We get them in here, make them understand the severity (of the offense,) and try to correct the situation.”
However, this time the situation could not be corrected. The settlement letter basically said: “We caught you with our stuff, we tell you how much money we want and you have to pay it,” according to Scott. The student was charged about $400.
“Students at other universities have been charged in the thousands, or a semester worth of tuition here,” Scott said. If the settlement is not paid, that opens the door for a lawsuit.
While this settlement letter was a big deal, the office handles about 50 to 100 cease-and-desist cases each year. Basically, the copyright company sends SFA a letter requiring the student to stop the illegal downloading or face penalties. There is no sneaking around and getting away with illegal downloading or sharing illegally downloaded files.
“They are able to narrow it down to the user and how they were connected,” Scott said. “They can tell if you were doing it through the wireless; it doesn’t matter, they will find you.”
Scott also warned against students sharing their log-in information, saying that if someone is illegally downloading using another student’s wireless log-in, that student is still held responsible.
“File sharing started with a very legitimate purpose,” Scott said. “It is my understanding it began on university campuses so students could collaborate on their work.”
The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities handles a multitude of other things besides illegal downloading. They handle absence notification, student conduct cases, the iCare early alert program, and KTSN (Key Services Temporarily Needed), among other things.
The absence notification service (not excuse service) is a helpful tool that could benefit all students. The office can notify all of your professors of an absence in the case that you are put in the hospital, if there is a death in the family, and other things along those lines.
KSTN is handled on case-by-case basis.
“If you have a sprained ankle and you need instructors to know, we can handle that,” Scott explained. If a student breaks their dominant arm and is in a class with essay exams, Scott’s office can get a scribe for them. “Every solution is creative and different,” Scott said.
The office itself has the highest security. Scott explained that many people who come to the office are not happy; some are there for violent tendencies. The door is frosted so no one can see who is in the waiting room, the door into the staff offices is locked and there are speakers on each side of the locked door to ensure privacy. Everything the office is handles is confidential.
“We are very strong student advocates,” Scott said. “We are here to be a part of our students’ success. We may not be the place to help everyone, but we will do our best to find that spot so they only have to go to one place.”
To contact the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, call 936-468-2703.