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Companies Crack Down On Illegal Downloads

Recording industry lawsuits have IT staffs working to protect networks

Tony Kontzer

September 12, 2003

1 Min Read

I.T. executives are assessing their companies' potential exposure from illegal file-sharing on their networks in the wake of lawsuits the Recording Industry Association of America filed last week against 261 individuals accused of swapping music files.

Deloitte Consulting has a policy prohibiting illegal uses of its network, and global CIO Larry Quinlan intends to ensure that the policy is followed. "We'll do our best to deter illegal activities," he says. "If that means blocking file-sharing services, that's what we'll do."

Ad agency Ogilvy & Mather doesn't want to become a target, either. It prohibits downloading music or movies, combining employee education with regular desktop scans in which any MP3s found are deleted. "We just don't want to get sued, and we want that consciousness to be in all of our employees," CIO Atefeh Riazzi says. "We'll do whatever we have to [do] to protect the company."

The RIAA says it has no specific plans for a legal campaign against businesses. Last October, the trade group and movie, music-publishing, and songwriting groups teamed to send letters to Fortune 1,000 companies urging them to take steps to prevent copyright infringement on their networks. In February, the groups sent a brochure to these same companies warning of potential legal liabilities related to the downloading of copyrighted works.

The publicity campaign isn't unwarranted. Jupiter Research analyst Lee Black says an IT exec he talked to estimated that 16% of his company's employees had file-sharing software on their desktops.

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