August 9, 2010

Vassar At Center Of File Sharing Controversy

It's no secret that a significant number of Vassar students don't pay for the music, movies, or other files they download. In fact, this is so well known that in several articles this summer Vassar has become a poster school for illegal downloading and its consequences.

"That era — from 1996 (or so) to 2010 — might go down as the golden age downloading-minded geeky dorm-residents," writes a blogger for the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog. The blogger names Vassar as one school where administrators have taken a stance against illegal downloading. Many Vassar students have had to meet with Dean Brown after getting caught illegally downloading music or other files on the Vassar network. As punishment, students usually have to complete some hours of work around campus. As the Law Blog post states, "Vassar College requires first-time offenders to perform 20 hours of 'sanctioned service' and pay a $25 fine." In a similar article, USA Today quotes Vassar's Jeff Kosmacher as saying, "Second-time offenders face double the service requirements, double the fines and loss of internet access."

Next semester, however, students may face even harsher punishments. A new Higher Education Opportunity Act went into effect in July, which according to the Law Blog, states that "colleges must either have installed software to block illegal file-sharing or have created some other procedure for preventing it." Students can now face up to $30,000 in fines for each illegally downloaded file.

Image via Gear Vault.


Sally Mince said...

The headline for this post is completely misleading, and the tone and intent of the blog entry are ridiculous.

There is no "file sharing controversy" that Vassar is somehow at the "center" of. The Wall Street Jounral article mentions VC because we are one of the few schools to have a standardized policy on file sharing. If you read the article, you can see that Vassar is barely mentioned, save for the one sentence that describes what Vassar's file-sharing policy is.

If I were a prospective student reading this headline, I would think that a member of the VC community was somehow involved in a file-sharing lawsuit or the like.

Why does this blog have to sensationalize everything it gets its hands on? Blogs that are responsible and fair get just as many hits as ones that aren't.

I understand that a blog like this needs to be updated frequently to maintain its readership, but not everything you post has to be contentious breaking news. Please don't misconstrue a simple reference in a news article into a college "controvery."

Meg said...

Back in the olden days, say seven to 12 years ago, file-sharing and pirating of tunes and movies was an issue on college campuses. Why there? Because young people are nefarious evil-doers? No. Because college campuses were equipped with speeder access to the internet than homes and businesses. That is no longer true. From our living room couch we can quickly download the latest movie before we can buy it. Wirelessly. Woo hoo. Grandma got Avatar before we could give it to her for Xmas.

Do you know what percentage of college students and other college residents/workers engage in illegal downloading? 3 percent. Why do they go after you? You're sitting ducks and you're easy pickin's. And you're young and lack political representation.

The writer of the WSJ blog post was probably merely a VC grad. It happens on all college campuses. And homes. Apartments. Places of work.

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