"For some reason theres been a big increase in illegal downloading on campus," said Dean of Students Greg Kneser.
Kneser does not attribute the downloading to incoming first-years, or any particular demographic. "The people doing it are all over the map," Kneser said.
One decade ago, illegal downloading was a technological buzzword that reached epic proportions and culminated in legal battle across the country.
"I remember in high school when everyone used Napster and Kazaa and people talked about how it was illegal and wrong but people did it anyway," said Katharine Klotzbach 07. "Now, downloading files off the Internet for free is so common, I doubt people even realize if its illegal. Its no longer a taboo."
St. Olaf College reports its network usage to the Recoding Industry Association of America (RIAA). If the RIAA sees a lot of illegal downloading activity coming from a St. Olaf IP address, RIAA contacts the school with that number. "We can look up whose address it is and reprimand those students," said Kneser. "But we dont give the students name to the RIAA."
As an incentive to get students to stop downloading and erase illegal files from their computers, a student caught illegally downloading will be denied network access until the files in question are removed. "It speeds things up when someone cant check their e-mail," Kneser said.
Associate Director of Information Services Craig Rice assures students that most illegal downloading happening on campus will not slow down network connections.
"We place academic use over peer to peer traffic everyday, " Rice said. "We prioritize Internet use, and increased our bandwidth from 20 megabits per second to 30 megabits per second in the last year, so connection should be faster."
That means the illegal downloading on campus is just that: a legal issue. "If the RIAA reports losing one billion dollars per year to illegal downloading, that means theyre going to do everything they can to stop the process," Kneser said.
In an age where more music is being distributed freely on the Internet through sites like myspace.com, the record industry continues to report a 25 percent decrease in sales.