Piracy regulations anew

Colleges and universities should be clear on their piracy policy.

The U.S. Department of Education will soon begin to craft new regulations that direct how colleges and universities across the country deal with piracy. Higher education institutions are now waiting to see whether their current policies are going to be strict enough to conform to the new standards, and those institutions should be concerned about the flexibility of these regulations. Showing the Higher Education Department their policies are strict and reasonable proactively is one way the University of Minnesota and other institutions should combat the language being written too harshly. The University might have some changes to make in being proactive. Punishment for pirating at the University is already case-by-case, said Amy Barsness , the assistant director of the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity âÄî it usually involves a warning or prohibition. And piracy is a problem. In January, the Office of Information Technology âÄî which tracks the IP addresses of students pirating, makes recommendations for punishment and may temporarily block Internet access to offenders âÄî referred 84 students for punishment, said its Vice President, Steve Cawley . And thatâÄôs a typical number. With the disappearance of Rukas, a DRM-heavy downloading service that contracted with the University at no cost, piracy may increase. So there is work to do. While we donâÄôt recommend that the University sign off student tuition dollars to offer an alternative, it should look into signing off with a free service like Rukas. Furthermore, guidelines and education must be priorities. Students should know just what the repercussions are âÄî both at the University and legally. Above all, the University and other institutions should aim for clarity and fairness in their piracy policies, lest federal regulations replace their authority.