Brooke Wolfe, Staff Writer

Students carry their smartphones, laptops and tablets around campus everyday. But, if used incorrectly, those devices could just become extra weight in backpacks. Online pirating could strip students of access to campus Wi-Fi.

Pacific Lutheran University community received a concerning email two weeks ago warning about the consequences of music and video piracy on campus.

PLU has had a growing number of incidents in which illegal downloads have been made while using the PLU server.

“By illegally sharing music or a video, it is like you walking into Walmart and stealing that download. It is the same thing,” said Frank Moore, associate provost for Information and Technology Services.

The problem comes from using the PLU Wi-Fi while on campus and the installed software on the student’s computer. In order to use the campus Wi-Fi, the computer being used has to be registered to a student’s e-pass. That registration creates an IP address for each computer connecting to the Wi-Fi.

An IP address is a series of numbers that are separated by periods. This code translates to identify who is communicating through a particular network.

When a student makes the decision to access TV shows or movies illegally, they are essentially taking away income from another individual working within the entertainment industry.

One flagged way to access this material is through software like BitTorrent or Vuze. Those programs are free for use and easily save on any computer.

Large companies such as HBO pay programmers to search for people downloading their material through these sites. Programmers use IP addresses to find individuals who are gaining free access to their shows and movies. If the IP address that is revealed states PLU, than the Office of Student Life intervenes.

PLU receives emails from agencies that have identified illegal activity on the university server, and each week those emails are passed on to Eva Johnson, Dean for Student Development and Director of Student Involvement and Leadership.

Johnson is responsible for halting further actions once they have taken place. If a student is caught illegally downloading on the network for the first time, he or she will receive a letter from Student Conduct explaining that they cannot participate in illegal activity on the PLU server. The Help Desk in the library can help students uninstall pirate software.

If the second illegal download is not met with an understanding attitude, Johnson must then meet with the student to have a conversation about their continued illegal activity and how the student will change their online habits.

The third time a similar downloading event occurs the student loses personal access to the network on-campus. This means the student’s devices will no longer sync up to the network and the student will have to go off campus to connect to a different network or use the public library computers.

Illegally downloading materials onto a personal computer while on the PLU network violates the student code of conduct.

“Take all your devices and go to the Help Desk,” Johnson said. “Say ‘I just want to make sure all my devices are clean from any illegal downloading.’’”

The PLU Help Desk can be found in the Library and hours can be found online at ◼︎

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