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Students need to accept risks of file-sharing

Sept. 10, 2003

Staff editorial

A Massachusetts court recently blocked subpoenas by the Recording Industry Association of America, which were aimed at obtaining the identities of college students from their respective campuses, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston College. The association sought these students because they shared music files.

The RIAA has begun a crackdown on file sharing by slapping students with lawsuits that range into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Jesse Jordan, for instance, is a 19-year-old student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., who was sued in April and ultimately settled with the association for $12,000 - his entire life savings.

Baylor most likely never would be involved in such a situation as MIT and Boston College because it is currently working to ensure students who use Baylor's Internet programs don't abuse the file sharing networks. With the RIAA's crackdown on file sharing, an important question arises: Is it a university's responsibility to prevent students from the illegal act of file sharing by installing a method of filtering into its system? The Lariat staff believes it is not.

A typical college student is older than 18 and therefore expected to act as an adult and accept the consequences of his or her actions. It is a different case when a university steps in to prevent illegal activities such as underage drinking or sexual assault because those actions could affect another person. However, music file sharing does not result in physical harm and does not necessitate the university's intervention.

Part of going to college is learning how to grow up and accept responsibility. We believe American universities and colleges should not install filters into their computer systems to prevent file sharing. Instead, the schools should give its students the freedom to act as adults and press their chances at being the next to face an RIAA lawsuit.