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Illegal downloading vs. streaming

Senior Eric Lemberg listens to free music on YouTube rather than buying the track off of iTunes.  "I can get the same instant gratification by streaming the music and not having to pay for it", Lemberg said. Photo illustration by Steven Stuts

Senior Eric Lemberg listens to free music on YouTube rather than buying the track off of iTunes. "I can get the same instant gratification by streaming the music and not having to pay for it", Lemberg said. Photo illustration by Steven Stuts

When University of Miami Junior Priscilla Gomez hears about a new band, she goes streaming – clicking on YouTube or Pandora to check out the music immediately for free instead of downloading the songs.

“I’m not going to put time into downloading something just to find out if I like it,” said Gomez. “I’m about the instant gratification… I want to hear or watch things now.”

Gomez is not alone. A recent survey by Music Ally, a digital music business information and strategy company in England, suggests a shift among young people away from illegally downloading music and movies.

Instead, the study found that more teenagers are going to streaming sites such as Pandora as a faster and legal alternative.

The survey included 1,000 teens.

Although there is no similar survey in the U.S., its message has hit close to home; it has been referenced by many publications including the Chronicle of Higher Education and PC Magazine.

One perk for the music industry in this growing field is the ability to market specifically to the consumer. While they might not be able to sell the actual music, these sites push concerts and paraphernalia.

Legal streaming sites meet the “instant gratification” needs of the online community, while bypassing the consequences of illegal downloading.

UM has also seen a decrease in the amount of illegal downloads. The university monitors the UCanes wireless network and devices that use it.

“Really, the only students who haven’t stopped downloading are the incoming freshmen,” UM Security Network Specialist Bert Gonzales said. “Almost everyone else hears about the [Three-Strike] policy by the end of the grace period.”

However, downloading on a private network goes unnoticed and in many cases unpunished.

“Our main goal is educating the students about the illegality of downloading,” Gil Serein, senior systems analyst at UM, said.

A bill passed by Congress in 2007 strictly prohibits illegal file sharing. As an incentive, schools that cooperate may receive grant money from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education.

Universities are not the only ones cracking down; local libraries and restaurants, like McDonalds and Starbucks, with their own signals have similar devices that detect download software.

UM’s Information Technology Department is working to ensure that streaming sites stay available under their tight security.

“If streaming is the new direction that’s where we’re headed” Serein said.

The downloading business has changed since the appearance of Napster in 1999. Since then, UM has had a deal with the reformed legal version of Napster and then Ruckus, where they paid membership fees so that all students could download legally.

“We are always on the lookout for deals that will accommodate the students,” Serein said.

The Napster deal has since ended and Ruckus went out of business earlier this year.

Even with this shift to streaming music, 95 percent of all downloaded music is still illegal according to a report done by The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a global music trade body.

There were 1.4 billion single tracks legally downloaded in 2008.

INFO BOX

UM Three-Strike-Policy

There is a 2-3 week grace period during which pamphlets, advertisements and e-mails are sent out alerting students to uninstall any illegal software they might have on their computers.

Strike One: After the grace period, students are notified via e-mail that their computers have been detected in violation and they lose KNet (internet) access. They have to go in person to the Help Desk to be re-connected.

Strike Two: Students are notified again via e-mail that their computers have been detected in violation and they lose KNet access. They have to go in person to the Help Desk to be re-connected. They are then put on special surveillance.

Strike Three: They immediately lose KNet service, and have to meet with Dean of Students Ricardo Hall, to address any legal consequences that the student might be facing.

October 5, 2009

Reporters

Veronica Perez


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