Students (unaware/don't care) about music legalities

Summary:I think the vast majority of people aren't too concerned about the inconsistencies, confusion and misunderstood legalities of sharing, trading and even possession of music tracks. But it does seem to be a growing problem, as a news reports suggest.

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I think the vast majority of people aren't too concerned about the inconsistencies, confusion and misunderstood legalities of sharing, trading and even possession of music tracks. But it does seem to be a growing problem, as a news reports suggest.

Many university networks appear limited to some extent, to enable fair usage amongst all students. Some larger universities may have a single 1GB bandwidth line yet distribute it evenly to allow only ISDN-line speeds to each student. Not only that, the servers block many file-sharing ports which support BitTorrent, Limewire, UseNeXT and suchlike, to crack down on bandwidth hoggers, but also piracy.

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According to The Times newspaper, students have on average around 800 music files illegally held on their devices through filesharing or copying from friends. Considering that the average MP3 player or iPod holds 1,770 songs, this is just under half of the files on the device which are stored illegally.

It's fair to say, there are very, very few people who don't realise using such file-sharing websites are illegal, but this isn't the issue per se. Copying of music files appears to be the biggest issue, because there seems no harm in it. I could send an MP3 to my friend and not think anything of it, yet I've just broken the law a good few times. The Recording Industry Association of America filed over 12,000 suits against students and that was 3 years ago - God knows how many now.

I do not condone piracy, but it's getting a tad ridiculous. Sharing music amongst friends is illegal; as far as I know, by selling someone or giving someone a music CD isn't illegal, yet copying and sending it to someone is. There are too many confusing technicalities, and after searching through OPSI earlier (as that applies to me), I couldn't find anything regarding music file transfers and its legalities.

It's good to know some universities out there take this seriously, and instead of hammering down on students, they offer a much nicer solution to the problem. If, though, you've set up a web server in your dorm room and are hosting, sharing and uploading tens, hundreds, thousands or millions of files to the web for sharing, I could probably see how that's illegal, and that's not so good. But would you agree - sharing of music amongst friends should be the least of our worries?

Topics: Browser, Enterprise Software, Piracy, Security

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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