Staff editorial: Oct. 13, 2011

Story by The Spectator Staff

Illegal file sharing is just that — illegal. Since 2010, UW-Eau Claire has received Title IV funding to educate students about copyright law and crack down on rule breakers, as was addressed in an article from  last week’s issue of The Spectator.

At the beginning of every semester, students receive an email warning them of the dangers of breaking copyright law. At Eau Claire, these dangers are comprised of a 14-day ban from the network after the first violation, a 28-day ban after the second, and a ban for the remainder of the semester on third offense.

That’s pretty lenient, considering the penalties in the real world consist of thousand-dollar fines from the record companies infringed upon.

The penalty may not even be strong enough to deter offenders. Many who download illegally can simply find another method of
doing so after being reprimanded.

Still, others may be convinced to stop after experiencing two weeks without Internet access on their personal computers (under Eau Claire’s consequences, offenders may still use campus computers to access the network).

If the punishment remains as diminutive as it presently is, it should at least be more strongly enforced. Eau Claire is considered to be the highest-offending university in the System and one of the highest in the nation.

It is appreciated by students that the consequences are dramatically less severe than the fines offenders would face elsewhere, but it may not be a stern enough punishment to permanently deter rule breakers from downloading illegally. The current system is merely a safety net to prepare students for the penalties they’ll later face if they choose to illegally file share somewhere other than the Eau Claire campus.