Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Internet Forces Schools to Contend with Copyright, Speech Issues. (Tech Talk)

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Internet Forces Schools to Contend with Copyright, Speech Issues. (Tech Talk)

Article excerpt

CAMBRIDGE, MASS.

AS universities' computer network capacities become deluged by file-sharing students, so too have school presidents' offices been hit by complaints from the entertainment industry. Citing an estimated 2.6 billion music and video files shared illegally each month on college campuses, four entertainment industry groups recently sent a joint letter to more than 2,000 university presidents urging them to crack down on copyright infringement.

"For colleges, this really is the proverbial digital rock (and) a digital hard place," says Dr. Casey Green of the Campus Computing Project, which studies technology issues that affect campuses.

The challenge for the schools lies in the fact that they want to avoid monitoring students' Internet use, especially at large state institutions with tens of thousands of students. While school officials largely say they are reluctant to keep tabs on exactly what students are doing with their computers, some say they think monitoring is inevitable. Dr. Michael Zastrocky, a former college administrator and now an analyst at research firm Gartner, estimates that 80 percent of schools that "don't monitor or don't get involved" will face an episode of negative publicity or legal action within five years. Meanwhile, monitoring software is improving, and universities soon may run out of excuses for not using it.

"It's not a requirement to have software that monitors access but I think it's going to become one in the next three to five years," Zastrocky says.

Dr. Juan Gilbert, a professor of computer science at Auburn University in Alabama, says his school is able to place control on some of the data traffic that flows into the school's network infrastructure because individual departments issue dedicated network access and server space to students. …

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