NIU students may face lawsuits for illegal downloading

By Derrick Smith

DEKALB, Ill. – In early March, the Recording Industry Association of America identified 28 IP addresses of Northern Illinois University students who could face legal action for illegal downloading.

According to NIU officials, any student with illegally obtained copyrighted material on their computers could still be at risk.

File-sharing software programs on computers allow other users to view and download files on that computer.

The ability for anyone to view this information puts students at risk, said Walter Czerniak, associate vice president of Information Technology Services.

“If the student has any illegal copyrighted material in their possession, they should delete it,” Czerniak said. “If it’s legally obtained, then you should make sure it’s secure.”

The owners of the 28 IP addresses at NIU were forwarded a letter from the RIAA informing them of their option to agree to an out-of-court settlement, the alternative being the RIAA taking legal action against them.

“Downloading P2P files opens up the PC to the network,” Czerniak said. “That’s what causes the RIAA to go after people.”

Programs can be connected without the user’s knowledge.

Students who need help securing their computers can contact the ITS Customer Support Center or Residential Technology Services.