Officials say they may punish for movie piracy
Discipline will usually amount to a warning, and U. will not set up a filter for network
April 16, 2007, 5:00 am·
When the MPAA talks, the University listens - well, for the most part.
Last month, the Motion Picture Association of America published its list of top-25 colleges for illegal downloading and asked universities to enact four measures to stop the problem, including punishing student offenders and establishing a filter on the college network.
Penn came in at No. 2 on the list with 934 offenses, and University officials say they have policies in place to comply with three of the recommendations and will discipline students if the need arises.
Ed Rentezelas, interim director of the Office of Student Conduct, said the University will punish repeat offenders, though he added there is no standard disciplinary measure in place.
Rentezelas said the University regularly receives letters from film-production companies detailing specific IP addresses that have been used for illegal movie downloads.
In most cases, he said, a warning, often followed by a brief visit to the OSC, is enough to stop a student from downloading films.
"We don't generally see students a second time," he said.
No serious punishments, such as expulsion or suspension, have been used thus far against students, either for downloading films or music.
Tactics from those in the movie industry differ from its music counterpart, the RIAA, which sent out 17 letters last week threatening litigation against individual Penn students.
MPAA spokeswoman Cara Duckworth has said the MPAA has not prosecuted students and currently has no plans to take that course, instead relying on individual colleges to take action.
Overall, University officials say they feel they are dealing properly with the problem of illegal movie downloads, even though they are not complying with all of the MPAA's demands.
In the MPAA's Best Practice Guide, the organization requests that colleges punish students; educate students on the fact that downloading films is illegal; provide free download services; and implement filters on networks, which would remove and block illegal material.
Robin Beck, vice president of information services, said Penn already uses orientation events to clarify the law for new students, and the University provide the Ruckus service, which allows for free downloads of a limited selection of music and movies.
"We take copyright protection very, very seriously," Beck said.
Beck added that the University currently has no plans to filter its network because filters would likely prevent some legitimate information sharing.