Music and video downloading has become an integral part of the Internet, especially for college students. Peer to peer (P2P) networks allow users to link up with one another and share files, providing a nearly unlimited supply of music, movies, and videos. However, downloading copyright protected materials without the consent of the copyright holder is illegal. Those that are found to have illegally downloaded copyrighted music and/or movies are subject to Criminal Penalties and/or Civil Penalties ranging from $750 per work infringed to as high as $30,000.
Ball State University's Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities require users of BSU computer-related resources to comply with all applicable laws including, but not limited to, those related to copyright and trademark.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade group which represents most of the major record labels. The RIAA routinely monitors popular file sharing Web sites so as to identify users' IP addresses. An organization called the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) performs a similar function for the film industry. An IP address does not identify an individual; therefore, RIAA's attorneys will contact the internet provider to obtain the names of file-sharers. While many internet providers (including many universities) will not willingly turn over their customer's information, the RIAA has been successful in obtaining subpoenas to obtain identifying information.
Since July 1, 2008, over 20,000 lawsuits have been filed by the RIAA and countless "pre-litigation settlement letters" have been sent to students from various universalities nationwide offering to settle claims of copyright infringement (usually in the range of $3,000 to $5,000) with the student prior to filing suit. If the student fails to settle with the RIAA it can be assumed that the student will be sued.