Security Matters: The lowdown on downloads

By Michael Carr

Last month, UK received 65 notices that asserted we have persons using the university network to download and upload digital music, movies and games without the copyright owners’ permission.

This increase in the number of accusations made against UK faculty, staff and students mirrors the increase in pending legal proceedings across the country against copyright violators.

In other words, outfits like the Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Entertainment Software Association are getting serious about cracking down on illegal file sharing, which they refer to as piracy.

When the RIAA, the MPAA or the ESA sues students, the average settlement is around $3,000 — and that does not include the cost of hiring an attorney. So, with the plethora of legal streaming media and legal music downloading sites available these days, it just does not make sense (or cents) to do it illegally and take the risk of getting caught.

Advice: Buy the song. Buy the movie. Buy the game. Illegal file sharing is like speeding: after you get caught, you realize it wasn’t worth it.

If you do use file-sharing programs like Ares, Kazaa, Morpheus, FrostWire, eDonkey or Bearshare (for legal purposes), follow these tips:

Tip 1: Do not keep any of your files, music, movies or games in the program’s default sharing folder. If you do, Courts may assume you have either downloaded the files or are offering the files for uploading by others.

Tip 2: Set the number of uploads (or slots) allowed to zero. This should prevent others from taking files from you (also, see Tip No. 1).

Tip 3: Make sure you have anti-malware software running on your computer (and smartphone) and that you keep it up-to-date. Many illegal downloads come with malware that can really hose up your system.

Tip 4: Better yet, disable file sharing altogether. Search for “EDUCAUSE Legal Sources of Online Content” to learn more about where and how to get music legally. Also checkout smartphone apps like Pandora, Slacker and Effin Genius.

For more information about downloading, visit

If you have questions about computer security or have ideas for future topics, please feel free to contact me at [email protected].