Around the Big Ten: Purdue tries to fight illegal downloads

Around the Big Ten: Purdue tries to fight illegal downloads

News from the home cities and states of the Big Ten universities:

PURDUE: University steps up efforts to halt illegal downloads

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) – Federal rules aimed at cracking down on illegal downloads are prompting Purdue University to limit students' bandwidth and step up efforts to educate students about the penalties for violating copyrights.

The efforts aren't resonating with some students, who say they'll continue to share electronic data and aren't worried about getting caught.

"Everyone does it, and really there are only a few anywhere who get caught," said recent graduate Teresa Brecht.

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 wants universities to help change that attitude.

The act requires schools to fight illegal distribution of copyrighted material and educate campus communities about the issue, including offering legal alternatives to downloading. Schools that don't comply with the new rules risk losing their eligibility for federal student aid.

Purdue spokeswoman Jeanne Norberg said the university has been preparing for the new rules since the 2008-2009 academic year.

"We have found that our students respond best when they hear from their peers who have made illegal choices and now are facing costly penalties," she said. "Piracy may seem easy, but the consequences are not."

The university displays posters about piracy and illegal downloading year-round. A university website also offers links to legal alternatives for downloading media content.

Students are warned of the consequences of violating copyright law before they log on to the campus online residential network called ResNet.

Since October 2008, the Recording Industry Association of America has sent 269,609 copyright infringement notices to colleges and universities. Purdue has received 474 copyright-related alerts since January, and students have paid thousands in fines for illegal downloads in years past.

Campus officials also comply with court-issued subpoenas requesting names of students whose computers have been identified as downloading illegal items.

But Purdue itself isn't likely to police what students download. The act gives schools flexibility so long as they use at least one technology-based deterrent, such as products to block illegal file sharing.

Purdue limits students using the university network to 5 gigabytes of data to outside websites per day.

Students say that's still enough to download movies.

"Everyone my age has grown up doing this," junior Ben Parniuk said. "I've been downloading since the fifth grade, and I've never been worried about being caught. I don't see anything changing that for me or anyone else my age."

Steven Worona, director of policy and networking programs for Educause, a higher education tech advocacy group, said there's only so much universities can do.

"The problem campuses have is that commercial network providers are not doing anything to limit the amount of infringement on their networks or educate their customers about copyright law," Worona said. "Every fall, a new cadre of students arrives on campuses who have been engaging in infringing activity since the third grade."

WISCONSIN: Madison firm makes video games for civics project

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – A Madison-based company has worked with retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to create video games that promote knowledge about government.

Filament Games says it has created several titles for the iCivics project, which aims to remedy civics ignorance among middle-school students.

The games include one that involves the operation of a fictional law firm, and another that casts players as attorneys arguing landmark court cases. Others teach about the three branches of government, the legislative process and democracy.

The games were unveiled at the Games for Change festival in New York recently, and O'Connor has promoted them widely.

Filament Games was founded in 2005 and has grown to a staff of 16.

WISCONSIN: Bike thefts in Madison down 30 percent

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Bicycle thefts in Madison have dropped 30 percent in recent years, and police say one reason might be a new program designed to help track down thieves.

Police say about 500 bike thefts were reported citywide in 2007. That number fell to about 425 the next year and 350 last year.

The decrease coincides with a "bait bike" program launched by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's police department. The program involves an unspecified number of bikes fitted with GPS tracking devices and left at various spots around campus.

The Wisconsin State Journal says the year before the program started, campus police made one arrest in connection with a bike theft. The next year they made 26 arrests.

IOWA: University museum to ask for FEMA funds

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – The University of Iowa plans to ask federal officials again for funding replacement efforts at the Museum of Art, which was heavily damaged by floods.

The building is located on the banks of the Iowa River and officials estimate damage at $5.5 million.

Most of the art was removed before the flood, but university officials are considering relocating the museum.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency had ruled that the building didn't suffer damage over 50 percent of the building's worth. That means the agency will help pay to restore the existing building, but won't replace it.

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