Illegal downloads and file-sharing low at Ball State thanks to proactive approach

Topic: University Libraries

March 10, 2008

Shuffling between Mozart and Whitney Houston, Beethoven and Mariah Carey, Italian violinist Giuliano Carmignola and the Eagles, it's hard to know what will be playing on Fritz Dolak's MP3 player. But, one thing is for certain — he won't be listening to music that has been illegally downloaded.

 In fact, as part of Ball State's effort to reduce the amount of pirated music on campus, one of Dolak's responsibilities as manager of the university's copyright and intellectual property office is to educate others about the dangers and consequences of obtaining music illegally.

 "Taking a proactive approach of going into classrooms to discuss with our students what copyright laws say about illegal downloads and file-sharing has proven to be a very effective method for discouraging that kind of activity," Dolak said.

 Since September 2006, Ball State has received just three copyright infringement notices from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). That number is dramatically lower than other Indiana schools, including Purdue University, which received more than 1,000 notices between September 2006 and February 2007. 

 "This seems to be a widespread problem on college campuses around the country," said Loren Malm, interim assistant vice president for information technology. "In order to help alleviate the problem here, we've established a three-tiered approach that focuses on prevention, education and offering alternatives — and the numbers prove it's working."

 A large part of Ball State's success comes from the fact that it does not permit the use of peer-to-peer file-sharing, Malm says. In addition, a Copyright for Students page on the university's Web site (www.bsu.edu/library/collections/copyright/students) outlines copyright laws and provides links to royalty free digital content. Ball State also subscribes to Ruckus, an online music service, and makes it available to students at no cost.

Note to editors: For more information, contact Dolak at 765-285-5330 or fdolak@bsu.edu. Malm can be reached at 765-285-2001 or lmalm@bsu.edu.

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