Recently, Long Island University students received an email from Lynette Phillips, vice president for Legal Services, and George Baroudi, University’s chief information officer, warning them about illegal movie downloads.
According to the February 6 email, “The University has received several notices of illegal movie downloads from Warner Brothers Entertainment and HBO.” The email mentioned that students have downloaded movies illegally and LIU Post officials are ensuring that students will not make this illegal move again. The email ended with “Be warned.”
The email informed LIU Post students of the consequences of the illegal downloading of movies that has allegedly occurred on campus.
“The email was sent out partially because of President Obama’s push to crack down on online privacy and we were willing to assist with this,” Phillips said. “LIU Post was sent letters from companies like Time Warner and HBO. We have gotten letters from the music industry a couple of years ago because of how students downloaded free music illegally.”
Baroudi did not respond to the Pioneer’s requests for comment about his contribution to the email sent to students.
There were mixed reactions from the student body in response to the email. Some students felt somewhat intimidated; others did not think anything of it. “Though the email seemed threatening, I still felt indifferent to it,” said Travis Doud, a freshman Biology major.
“I’ve never illegally downloaded anything before and after seeing this email, it makes me never want to download anything illegally [in the future],” said Kathryn Brust, a freshman Business major.
The email, according to Phillips, was not meant to be harsh, “…But we wanted to get the point across in order to help the students and make them understand how serious this matter is.”
According to the email, the students who have downloaded movies illegally by using the LIU Post computer system have been identified after LIU officials researched the access dates and Internet Protocol, or IP, addresses. School authorities are now questioning the suspected students who have been identified.
“Individual students are liable for downloading things illegally. Nowadays it is very easy for a company to find out if their items have been downloaded illegally and who downloaded them,” Phillips said.
“Now all they [the movie studios] have to do after finding this information out is reach us and ask about the students. As for the students who have yet to be found, they will be dealt with by Student Affairs. But even though the movie companies haven’t made any major charges yet, the students are still expected to face serious repercussions.”
The federal copyright law states that punishments for illegally downloading movies as well as other forms of entertainment include fines of up to $30,000.
The email also stated, “Repeated thefts could result in imprisonment up to five (5) years and fines of $250,000 per offense.” When asked, Phillips, however, was unsure of what punishments the University would give as well as who will officially conduct the punishments.
The music industry has been affected severely by illegal downloading as well. As Phillips and Baroudi informed students in their email, “Ripping music is not a victimless crime—it is theft of royalties from writers and musicians, theft of wages from recording studio and stage crews and theft of operating monies from companies that subsidize the music industry.”
According to the August 2012 article, “How Hollywood Is Encouraging Online Piracy,” in Scientific American written by David Progue, “Traffic to illegal download sites has more than sextupled since 2009.”
Though this article claims that rates of downloading music and movies illegally have increase significantly since 2009, LIU Post students interviewed have said that it is harder to download forms of entertainment today due to the entertainment industry’s crackdown to stop this illegal action.
“I personally feel that four years ago downloading was much easier. Now it’s much more difficult but now there are forums where you can obtain other sites and info to download,” said P.J, a freshman Business major, who asked that his name not be used to avoid potential trouble with the University.
Even though it is a very hard process, people continue to be able to download things illegally. According to the recent email, LIU Post is now cooperating with Warner Brothers Entertainment and HBO to stop students from illegally downloading on the LIU campus computer system.