Details on Marquette’s Participation in BSA’s “Define the Line” Program

By Eric Goldman

Back in May, I blogged about Marquette being the first participant in the Business Software Association’s “Define the Line” campaign against on-campus copyright infringement. The details were sketchy, but the Marquette Tribune student paper ran an article giving an update on the program.

The article answers the most obvious question, which is why Marquette joined the program in the first place. The school was introduced to the BSA by USG, a software vendor that made a $30M+ donation of software to Marquette.

The article lists some of the activities that Marquette has undertaken in connection with the campaign, including:

* distributing brochures and handouts during Preview weekends and Orientation

* placing posters in high-traffic areas

* discussing copyright infringement at a Campus Safety seminar

This latter venue seems like an interesting place to bring up the matter. I can imagine the discussion: “Don’t walk around alone at night…if someone strange is following you, pick up the blue phone…and don’t copy that floppy!”

Marquette has also issued a press release update about the program. Not surprisingly, the release is long on pro-copyright owner statements and short on details. Among other missing details, I still have not heard which other schools have joined the Define the Line program. Here’s the text of the release:

Marquette’s effort to “Define the Line” to stop illegal sharing, downloading continues this fall

Marquette’s participation in “Define the Line,” a national program aimed at discouraging illegal sharing and downloading of software, is continuing this fall. The program calls upon students, faculty and staff to ensure they are properly and legally sharing and downloading software and other digital copyrighted work including music and movies.

“Define the Line helps Marquette take a proactive stance on illegal downloading before it is becomes a problem,” says Kathy J. Lang, chief information officer. “It is especially important at a school like Marquette, where the computer system is an integral part of serving our students as well as employees. Define the Line will help our students as well as faculty and staff understand how illegal downloading has an impact on the lives of others. We feel it will set a standard.”

According to a study conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, two-thirds of college and university students surveyed see nothing unethical about swapping or downloading digital copyrighted files (software, music and movies) without paying for them and more than half (52 percent) think it is also acceptable behavior in the workplace. The survey also reveals that 45 percent of students are using the campus networks for downloading activities, with 36 percent of them more likely to report increased downloading.

Marquette is one of the first universities in the country to implement this program. Define the Line is designed to educate students about using commercial software legally, respecting copyrighted works online, and understanding the impact of software theft. The Business Software Alliance (BSA), an organization dedicated to promoting a safe and legal digital world, sponsored the program to raise awareness about these important issues with university students, faculty and staff. Marquette will implement this program through a variety of outreach efforts.

“Education is critical in preparing a 21st century workforce, and we believe Define the Line to be a valuable educational resource in emphasizing to students the importance of being good cyber citizens,” says Diane Smiroldo, vice president, public affairs of BSA. “We believe Define the Line will help the Marquette University population realize the seriousness of illegal downloading and educate them about the importance of respecting creative works online.”