You have been warned

It’s only a click away, but downloading music isn’t as simple as it seems.

Music theft has increasingly become a threat to the recording industry and continues to be a problem with college students.

In a Web interview with college journalists on Feb. 28, Mitch Bainwol, CEO of RIAA, said he continues to see a problem on college campuses.

“We clearly are seeing continued widespread piracy, theft, on college campuses, despite innovative businesses models like Ruckus’ offer of free legal music to any student,” Bainwol said.

The University is not exempt from this problem as BGSU’s Internet Technology Services continues to be proactive in stopping students from doing this illegal activity.

“Our goal is to prevent people from hurting themselves through security presentations and notifications so that these students don’t get into deep trouble,” said Toby Singer, executive director of ITS.

RIAA president Cary Sherman said he believes all students are aware it’s illegal.

A recent survey by the Intellectual Property Institute at the University of Richmond School of Law found that more than half of college students download music and movies illegally.

ITS Information Security Officer Kent Strickland said he feels it’s a continuing problem on campus with more penalties than most students realize.

“Not only is it illegal, but it is not a good security practice with identity theft being a major risk when using these services,” Strickland said.

On Wednesday, RIAA launched its second wave in preventing this illegal activity from happening.

In recent years, once the activity of illegal downloading was discovered the suit was sent to the university because the association was not able to figure out which student was violating the law.

RIAA will now send a pre-lawsuit letter to the school before filing the lawsuit in hopes to immediately notify the student being convicted and allow 20 days for the student to respond in order to reach a settlement, said Steve Marks, general counsel for the association.

This settlement would prevent a lawsuit from ever being filed by reducing fines and keeping it off students’ permanent records.

RIAA officials sent 405 pre-litigation settlement letters to 23 universities this past week.

“There will be 400 letters like this sent every month to different universities,” Marks said.

The RIAA also will continue to send DMCA notices, which inform the university students are violating the law. Penalties will vary depending on the university.

This process is done anonymously so no particular university is targeted, but the more illegal downloading at a university, the greater its chances are of getting more notifications.

And while students may question the harm in downloading a few songs, Strickland believes it will hurt universities facing lots of letters.

“Everyone wants to save money, but the university has to pay for higher speeds to control the use of available bandwidth and possibly increasing such things as tuition,” Strickland said.

Not all students agree.

“It’s a problem but shouldn’t be a high on everybody’s list,” said freshman Angela Warnck.

Others have similar feelings.

“I don’t think it should be illegal to download songs that are say 20 years old because you would think they have gotten enough money from it,” sophomore Kyle Riesterer said.

Sherman said he hopes the new policy will make students more aware of the risks they are taking when they download songs.

“By increasing the number of lawsuits, we’re letting them know that the risk of getting caught is greater,” he said. “That’s also why we’re bringing more lawsuits on a single college campus.”

Cindy Fuller, communications coordinator of ITS, said she has high hopes for helping students navigate this issue.

“Education is a big part of what we can do,” she said.

Singer said it’s been hard to get students to stop downloading.

“The sad part is people feel that they are invisible, however, if you talk to someone that has been caught it’s a whole different story,” he said.