Oct 262006

Today, everything from music to movies to software seems to be fair game for “downloaders,” and companies are still struggling to caution people about the dangers – and repercussions – of illegally obtaining copyrighted materials.

According to a recent study funded by Business Software Alliance, those repercussions include the risk of rejection or firing from a job.

Besides the possibility of fines and jail time, the study found that nearly 90 percent of hiring managers and supervisors consider their job candidates’ file-sharing attitude and behavior when making hiring decisions.

At CSU, the university takes an aggressive approach toward downloading to protect students from legal hot water.

“We try to be really proactive because we don’t want the students to have it come up on their record,” said Tonie Miyamoto, communications coordinator for Housing and Dining Services. “We would rather detect the activity on the network and encourage students to stop before the recording industry contacts us, which is what they’ve been more proactive about doing the past couple of years.”

College students are predominantly warned more than other groups because they are more likely to obtain copyrighted digital works illegally.

For this reason, BSA says college students should be aware of the ramifications of their actions. In the study, nearly one-third of company hiring managers said they would “probably” or “definitely” not hire a candidate if they knew the candidate had lax attitudes toward illegal downloading in the workplace.

They could also lose the job they have.

Doug Robinson, a freshman open-option major, said it’s unfair that a person could lose their job or not be hired because of their downloading habits.

“Personally, I don’t download.but as far as the employers looking to find that as a circumstance to fire people is ridiculous,” he said.

However, Treanna Anastasia, a junior chemistry education major, does not see a problem with the findings.

“I mean, if they’re doing something illegal and you know that they’re doing it, and especially if they’re doing it at work, that’s not OK,” she said. “It makes total sense that they would be letting people go for that.”

BSA also warns about the other residual effects of illegal downloading.

In 2005, the United States lost nearly $7 billion because of piracy, something that companies, as well as the government, take very seriously, according to the BSA’s study.

In a phone interview, John Wolfe, the director of Internet Enforcement for BSA, said he wants higher education students to be aware and concerned about their decision to download.

“All too many students know it’s wrong, know it’s illegal,” Wolfe said. “They think they are just one little student.but they are heading down the wrong path.”

Staff writer Matt Wedell can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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