To the millions of people doing it every year, stealing music off the Internet seems innocuous enough; after all, downloading music illegally is a victimless crime, right?
WRONG. In reality, you may be hurting yourself.
Soon you could seeing the consequences of illegal downloading firsthand — at your school. If colleges don’t stand up to students and stop illegal downloading, they risk losing their federal funding. If your school depends on money from Uncle Sam, that blow to the budget could mean some changes on campus. Beginning back in July, a provision of the Higher Education Act of 2008 mandates that if universities don’t do enough to reduce piracy, they could lose big bucks from the government.
Over 250,000 infringement warnings are sent to college and universities every year. That means that when record companies and content owners become aware of their property being stolen, they notify both individuals and colleges about the crimes. Unfortunately, some schools fail to take notice and that could eventually land them (and you) in hot water. Think about it: Less money from the government means less financial aid, grants, and a reduction in many services.
Universities have been encouraged to reduce illegal file sharing among students for several years, but schools that have yet to take on this anti-piracy initiative may now see consequences. Ironically, colleges have only spent up to $500,000 to fight illegal downloading (that's nationwide!) in order to keep their federal funding. Whether schools can actually stop music-loving college kids from hitting up the Internet for free files remains to be seen.
So ask yourself this: Is downloading that Kings of Leon song you love for free worth having to pay for your ENTIRE college tuition out of your own pocket?
— By Ali Straka, University of Missouri