The amount of Digital Millenium Copyright Act, or DMCA, complaints MSU received in 2011 nearly has tripled since 2009.
There were 1,633 complaints made to MSU in 2009. In 2011 — excluding the month of December — there have been 4,557 complaints issued, an increase of nearly 3,000 in the two-year period.
DMCA complaints are made to MSU when copyrighted media is downloaded illegally using university Internet connections.
Data was not collected for a portion of 2010 because of an organizational transition, but there were 2,846 complaints reported during the time data was collected.
The complaints come from the individuals or groups who own the copyrighted material being illegally acquired, said Dush Fernando, assistant director for user services at MSU Academic Technology Services, or ATS.
“We are not in the business of catching people,” Fernando said. “Since we provide the Internet service to the campus, we process those complaints we receive.”
The Recording Industry Association of America and members of the movie industry are the two biggest sources of complaints MSU receives, Fernando said.
When a complaint is received by the university, it is passed on to the student, who is charged a $25 processing fee, Fernando said. The fee is raised to $50 for a second offense, and a third offense results in a $75 fee in addition to a report to the Office of Student Affairs and Services, he said.
“When we receive those complaints … our goal is to educate the students (that) this is copyrighted material, and what they’re doing is considered illegal,” he said.
Political theory and constitutional democracy sophomore Nick Wisti said he thinks many students participate in downloading illegal files.
“It’s an easy access to (content),” Wisti said. “They don’t have to pay for it. I also don’t think they realize the risk involved.”
Wisti said he doesn’t download media illegally because of the repercussions of getting caught.
“I’m aware of the risk of doing it, and I don’t think it’s worth it when I could pay $10 to buy a movie or something,” he said.
Fernando said users can get caught downloading files illegally if they are using MSU-provided wired or wireless Internet from anywhere on campus.
SecureIT, a campaign sponsored by MSU Libraries, Computing and Technology launched in 2007, intended to educate students about safe computing, including the risks associated with downloading copyrighted material on campus, said Beth Bonsall, communications manager for ATS.
Bonsall said a primary goal of SecureIT is to inform all incoming freshmen about safe computing, but there is no way of measuring the initiative’s effectiveness.
“The more students know, the more they’ll be informed about illegal file-sharing and the possible risks associated with it,” she said.