- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Administrators at the U.S. Naval Academy seized almost 100 midshipmen's computers last week because officials believe they contain music and movies illegally downloaded from the Internet.
The raids occurred Thursday while the students were in class, according to a report in the Annapolis Capital newspaper.
Cmdr. Bill Spann, a spokesman at the Annapolis academy, told the newspaper an investigation is under way but declined further comment.
Cmdr. Spann did not return several phone calls yesterday.
The seizure came about six weeks after the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and other entertainment-industry trade groups sent a letter to the academy and 2,300 other colleges and universities urging them to crack down on Internet piracy on their campuses.
"We appreciate institutions who take intellectual-property theft seriously. However, we do not dictate what their enforcement policies should be, and, in this particular instance, we do not know the facts of the case," according to a statement the RIAA released yesterday.
The Navy gives each midshipman a computer upon entering the academy, the report said.
During their four years at the school, the midshipmen pay back the value of the computers through deductions from their monthly paychecks.
Punishment for illegally possessing copyrighted material ranges from loss of leave to a court-martial, Cmdr. Spann said.
The music group claims more than 2.6 billion music files are downloaded illegally each month. It also contends downloading the materials has hurt musicians, songwriters and record-store owners.
The association has been crusading against copyright infringement for years.
In 2000, it waged a high-profile battle with Napster Inc., a small company that used file-swapping software that allowed users to freely trade music online.
The company lost a copyright-infringement court battle against the major record labels in 2001, and went off-line to develop a subscription service.
Now the music group has targeted companies that offer peer-to-peer networking technology such as KaZaa BV, AudioGalaxy and Streamcast saying the companies knowingly aid and contribute to copyright infringement.
The Association of American Universities and five other groups that represent higher-education institutions sent letters to their members in October urging them to prevent copyright infringement through the use of peer-to-peer file-sharing software that is used on many campuses.
A spokeswoman for the universities' association said yesterday she is unaware of other schools that have seized students' computers because they contain illegally downloaded movies and music.
In its letter to colleges and universities, the RIAA and the other entertainment trade groups cited the copyright-infringement policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as one that other schools could emulate.
Students accused of copyright infringement are disciplined through a student honor court.
Punishments imposed for such infractions can include suspension, expulsion, probation, community service or an official letter of sanction in the student's academic record.
"The university maintains a copy of all judicial records for 10 years, so these outcomes might prove devastating to your future job prospects or academic pursuits," according to the school's policy.
Julie Green Bataille, a spokeswoman for Georgetown University, said students accused of copyright infringement are handled by the student disciplinary body.
She was not aware if any students have been disciplined or if seizure of a student's computer was a punishment.
"It's not something we have ever addressed," Miss Bataille said.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide