The U.S. House of Representatives passed the College Opportunity and Affordability Act on Feb. 7, 2007, in an effort to curb rising tuition costs and another rising illegal trend on college campuses.
Within the COAA is a requirement that colleges begin offering a legal alternative to peer-to-peer music downloading and also begin to crack down on illegal pirating of music within their networks. Although the act does not list any consequences for schools that don’t comply, Temple is taking a strong stance.
The university previously enlisted a legal downloading service called Ctrax. Ctrax, however, went bankrupt in 2007 and terminated its services. Temple is currently negotiating a contract with a new company and hopes to have the service up and running by the end of March, if not sooner, Vice President of Computer Services Tim O’Rourke said.
While O’Rourke said he could not disclose the name of the new service at this time, he assured students that it is coming.
“This is something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time,” O’Rourke said. “But we’ve been limited in our selection.”
The process of finding a new supplier has been more difficult because there are not many available anymore, O’Rourke said.
“It is a good idea because students need an alternative,” junior architecture major Samantha Perdick said. “We can’t afford to pay for music downloads, so of course people will revert to doing it illegally.”
Although this new service will be available shortly, students will not be able to burn songs to CDs or iPods.
“It’s not going to work that way,” O’Rourke said. “That’s what the law is all about – trying to prevent that.”
Students can listen to music on their computers, and if they want to burn it, they can buy it, O’Rourke said.
The university has been working to prevent the illegal downloading of music for the past five years. As soon as students become active on a Web site, the university shuts it down on their network, in accordance with university policy.
“It’s a cat and mouse game,” O’Rourke said. “We block all of the sites that we know of, and then wait for the next one to become active.”
O’Rourke also said that if students bring a computer to Computer Services employees that has illegally downloaded music, they will refuse to work on it.
“We believe strongly in the copyright laws,” O’Rourke said. “It’s the ethical thing to do. We do not promote the theft of music or videos.”
The problem still facing anti-piracy enforcers is that students may choose not to use the free service because they will not be transfer music to portable mp3 players.
“Since we can’t burn the songs,” Perdick said, “students might continue to use illegal downloading services.”
“I think that people will continue to download illegally until someone gets caught. Then, they will find an alternative way to download,” sophomore psychology major Cana Sarnes said. “I think the amount will decrease slightly with this new service, but not to the extent of eliminating digital piracy.”
In one month, the university will be able to test out the success of its anti-piracy actions.
Kathryn A. López can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.