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UW-Madison Cracking Down on Illegal File Sharing

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MADISON, Wis. (WTAQ) - UW-Madison is clamping down on illegal file sharing, in which students use school computers to download copyrighted music and movies for free.

Under a new law this summer, universities which get federal funds must do all they can to stop illegal file sharing. Jim Lowe, the UW’s chief information security officer, says recording and film associations send about 3,000 “cease and desist” orders to the school each year.

Most cases are resolved, and the UW is trying a new tactic for students who don’t pay up. Lowe says it’s a “three strikes” policy. Students will first get a standard “cease and desist” order.

Those who don’t comply will then get a letter from the Dean of Students, followed by a personal meeting as a third step. The UW can lose federal funds if they don’t crack down.

But Brian Rust of the information office says the consequences can also be bad for students. He says they’ve become the focus of attention by the recording industry – and the penalties can get expensive in a hurry. A recent UW survey on computers shows that 80 percent of students are aware of the problem of illegal fire sharing. And most know there are penalties for it.

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