Category Archives: UNI

Copyright Infringement in the Modern World

Near the end of the spring semester here at UNI I was accused of uploading Game of Thrones: Season 5 Episode 3 without permission on the university’s network. As one of the sanctions placed on me by the university I was required to write a research paper about “the history and importance of copyright infringement”. I did honest research, albeit with an initial bias, and came to my own conclusions about modern copyright law. I did not write an apology letter. Indeed, I wanted to challenge dogma. Here is what I gave the Office of the Dean of Students:

A culture is not complete without its own forms of literature, film, drama, music, and other creative works. In order to ensure the flourishing of these arts, and hence the flourishing of a large and diverse part of Western society, it is necessary to protect artists and their rights. This is precisely the motivation behind the Copyright Act of 1790, as well as its major revision in 1976. Times have changed, however. With the advent of computers, DVR, camera phones, and the internet, it is has become very easy to copy, reproduce, and obtain media of all kinds from all over the world. With the development of these technologies, and the ease of obtaining and distributing copyrighted media, contemporary intellectual property law was born.

In 1998 the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a document which serves to establish and protect the rights of artists in the case of online copyright infringement, was signed into law by Bill Clinton. The DMCA passed through senate with a unanimous vote. (DMCA, 1998) To combat redistribution and infringement, the DMCA empowers artists by strengthening their copyright on the internet. For example, a young artist trying to make money from selling singles may invoke the DMCA in order to remove a YouTube video featuring the artists’ content without the artists’ consent. In such a case YouTube is responsible for removing the video and informing the user, but YouTube is not liable for damages. This is another facet of the DMCA. Since it is unfair to require internet service providers of such large scale (YouTube has more than one million users who make profit from advertisement revenue) to be held accountable for the actions of their clients and users, the DMCA limits the liability of the providers.

Although the DMCA limits the liability of service providers like YouTube, there is still conflict between content providers and the large video streaming website. In 2007 Viacom filed charges against YouTube for copyright infringement. Viacom claimed that the volume of different users uploading Viacom’s content accrued more than $1 billion in damages. (Helft, 2010) The initial verdict was that YouTube was protected by the DMCA, but in the sequence of appeals there was a ruling that YouTube could be held liable due to YouTube having “general knowledge” that “many people upload copyrighted content.” In the end of the court battle, the DMCA acted as a shield for YouTube rather than a sword for Viacom and no damages were paid. Though it is obvious that YouTube is not interested in committing infringement, their liability was the subject of heated debate – the case took 6 years to settle. When it comes to the case of file sharing with copyrighted media, however, the verdict is clear. Using file sharing services to download or upload files is a violation of copyright law.

Since file sharing software is so commonplace, copyright infringement is happening more now than ever. Those who stand to challenge copyright infringement are, of course, those who feel the effect most of all. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) manufacture and deliver 85% of all media in the United States and have sued more than 20,000 individuals for distributing copyrighted media. (Kravets, 2010) Since the DMCA protects internet service providers, the RIAA may only sue individual violators directly. Out of the 20,000 cases that have been opened, only 2,500 have been settled. The RIAA’s litigation campaign has been incredibly unsuccessful and has even been accused of being nothing more than an “intimidation campaign”. Such allegations are easy to believe knowing that the RIAA has also sued the families of dead men; the RIAA gave the family of Larry Scantlebury 60 days of grieving before the attack on his estate in the courtroom. (Bylund, 2006) As indicated by only 2,500 settled cases, this behavior from the RIAA does not go unchecked. The RIAA has been met by the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), a pro-open culture litigation shield for vulnerable parties, in court many times. (EFF, 2015) With their defeat on the front of individual lawsuits the RIAA has resorted to tracking peer to peer uploads and asking the service provider to dispense its own form of justice to the users, this comes typically in the form of a three strike system.

But do not forget that the original intent of copyright law is to protect artists and their rights. The fans, believe it or not, are actually interested in compensating artists.
The RIAA has spent long hours and many resources on its campaign and they are legally in the right. But do not forget that the original intent of copyright law is to protect artists and their rights. The fans, believe it or not, are actually interested in compensating artists. The staggeringly high amount of illegal downloads might not be very persuasive, but if one considers different mediums then the fact becomes obvious. There is a new form of entertainment present on the internet today called “streaming”. With online videogames, a professional player will share their screen activity with the world through a website for free and anyone can come to the website and watch them play. The interesting thing about this arrangement is that thousands of these professional players make a living from fan donations. The professional players build a connection with their fans and, with support from donations, these professional players spend their days doing what they love – providing content.

Some may argue that if fans want to support music artists then they should just “suck it up” and buy the albums. This argument is flawed because it assumes that the profits of the purchase will benefit the artists. While it is true that some of the profits will go to the artists, the split is nowhere close to fair for the artists involved. According to a report done on music sales artists only make $24 for every $1,000 sold. (Jefferson, 2010) Therefore it is in the artists’ best interest (that people buy albums) in the same way that a starving person would prefer a plate with crumbs rather than a plate with nothing on it at all. A new system, one which protects the artists and the fans, is necessary.

It is not hard to imagine what these alternative support systems might look like. The model might function in the same way that it does for radio stations; they pay a recurring fee to play whatever music they like. It might function in the same way that it does with streaming; artists connect directly to their fans and collect donations. In any case, file sharing is not going away. Despite the fear tactics and lawsuits, file sharing is at an all-time high. It is time to change the rules of the game. Artists and fans deserve a system that will allow culture to flourish.

Works Cited

Bylund, A. (2006, August 12). Retrieved from ArsTechnica:

EFF. (2015, June 3). Retrieved from Electronic Frontier Foundation:

DMCA. (1998). Retrieved from U.S. Copyright Office:

Helft, M. (2010, March 18). Technology. Retrieved from New York Times:

Jefferson, C. (2010, July 6). Culture. Retrieved from The Root:

Kravets, D. (2010, September 21). Security. Retrieved from Wired:

UNIFI as a community for faith and worship at UNI

The Panther Caucus, an alumni organization for the University of Northern Iowa, recently published Creating a welcoming community for faith and worship. Until I read that, I had no idea UNIFI was such an organization for faith and worship. It was startlingly easy to rewrite their article to be more inclusive, or even exclude other groups, so I did. This is my response, and does not represent the views of any other individual or organization.

Creating a welcoming environment for reason and achievement at UNI

The University of Northern Iowa is home to more than 240 recognized secular student organizations. The groups offer community and activities for students, faculty, and staff. Some of the groups are oriented around majors and departments, like the Philosophy Students Club and the UNI Physics Club. Others are general, such as the Financial Literacy Club, a campus organization that promotes good habits and understanding personal finances.

There are groups for athletes and artists; groups that are for students interested the celebrating physical achievement and the performing arts.

“We want you to feel welcome. We want you to come and feel like you’re part of this community,” said Aaron Friel, president-elect of the UNI Freethinkers and Inquirers, a group open to students wanting to ask questions about and challenge religious ideas.

UNIFI was founded more than seven years ago and has collaborated with a variety of progressive and secular student organizations on campus as well as local churches. One event UNIFI participates in is Darwin Week, which promotes scientific achievement and humanist ideas. Other events have included 24/7 Service Week in which students volunteered in non-profit organizations across the Cedar Valley, an event scheduled to coincide with another group’s 24/7 Prayer Week.

These organizations provide students with the opportunity to connect on a more personal level, offering programs for smaller groups and casual social events, and larger-scale events, such as camping trips, retreats and spring break trips.

Friel says the main goal for UNIFI to create a welcoming environment where students can grow and feel comfortable questioning religious ideas. “I think everyone should be able to find a group, a community for them at UNI.” Friel added. “For me, that means UNIFI, but there are groups here for everyone.”

Some of UNI’s secular organizations include:

  • Actuarial Science Club
  • Alpha Delta Pi
  • Alpha Phi
  • Alpha Phi Omega
  • Alpha Psi Omega Theta Alpha Phi Chapter
  • Alpha Upsilon Alpha
  • Alpha Xi Delta
  • American Choral Directors Association
  • American Marketing Association
  • American Sign Language Club
  • Art for El Salvador
  • Association of Criminology Students
  • Association of Technology Management & Applied Engineering UNI Chapter
  • Autism Advocates
  • Baseball Sport Club
  • Bedsider UNI
  • Bender Hall Senate
  • Best Buddies
  • Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society
  • Black Male Leaders Union
  • Black Student Union
  • Camp Adventure Child & Youth Services
  • Campbell Hall Senate
  • Campus Activities Board
  • Cedar River Productions
  • Cedar Valley Linux Users Group
  • Cedar Valley Support A Student
  • Chi Sigma Iota
  • Chinese Students and Scholars Association
  • College Republicans
  • College of Business Administration Presidents Council
  • Colleges Against Cancer
  • Common Sense Action
  • Communication Student Association
  • Computer Club
  • Connecting Alumni To Students
  • Corey and Eric for UNI
  • Dancer Hall Senate
  • Daniel Webster Law Society
  • Digital Collective
  • Drug-Free Panthers
  • Economics Club
  • English Club
  • Ethnic Student Promoters
  • Explorers of Religion
  • Film Appreciation Club
  • Financial Management Association
  • Gamer Brigade
  • Gamma Phi Beta
  • George Walker Society of Music
  • Golden Key International Honour Society
  • Graduate Student Social Network
  • Greek Week Committee
  • Green Project UNI – The Panther Plot
  • Hagemann Hall Senate
  • Hispanic Latino Student Union
  • History Club
  • Honors Student Advisory Board
  • Humans vs. Zombies The UNI Chapter
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers UNI Chapter
  • Interfraternity Council
  • International Cultural Exchange
  • International Dance Theatre
  • International Student Association
  • International Student Promoters
  • Iowa High School Model United Nations
  • KULT Radio
  • Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society
  • Kappa Kappa Psi- Eta Pi Chapter
  • Kappa Sigma Fraternity
  • Kevin and Paul Students for Students
  • Korean Language and Culture Club
  • Lawther Hall Senate
  • Legacy PR
  • Management Information Systems Association
  • Middle Eastern Dance Club
  • Multicultural Teaching Alliance
  • National Residence Hall Honorary-UNI Chapter
  • National Society of Collegiate Scholars
  • National Student Speech Language Hearing Association University of Northern Iowa Chapter
  • Noehren Hall Senate
  • Nonprofit Leadership Alliance
  • Nontraditional Student Organization
  • Northern Iowa Anime Association
  • Northern Iowa Democrats
  • Northern Iowa Family Service Organization
  • Northern Iowa Potters and Sculpters
  • Northern Iowa Student Government
  • Northern Iowa Wishmakers
  • Northern Iowan
  • Omicron Delta Kappa-UNI Circle
  • One Iowa at UNI
  • Orchesis Dance Company
  • Order of Omega
  • Panhellenic Council
  • Panther Leadership Service Club
  • Panther Pacers Running Sport Club
  • Panther. Magazine
  • Panthers For Anesa
  • Panthers for Andrew Miller
  • Phi Alpha Theta Honor Society (Pi-Lambda Chapter)
  • Phi Beta Lambda
  • Phi Beta Sigma
  • Phi Eta Sigma
  • Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Beta Nu Chapter
  • Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity
  • Phi Upsilon Omicron
  • Philosophy Club
  • Physical Education Club
  • Physical Education Club
  • Pi Kappa Alpha
  • Pi Sigma Epsilon
  • Political Science Society
  • Pre-Dental Club
  • Pre-Medical Club
  • Pre-Optometry Club
  • Pre-Physician Assistant Club
  • Pre-Veterinary Club
  • Project Marrow
  • Public Policy Club
  • Public Relations Student Society of America
  • Relay For Life Committee
  • Residence Hall Association
  • Rho Epsilon
  • Rider Hall Senate
  • Saudi Students Club
  • Service and Leadership Council
  • Shull Hall Senate
  • Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity
  • Sigma Alpha Iota
  • Sigma Delta Pi
  • Sigma Gamma Epsilon
  • Sigma Iota
  • Sigma Phi Epsilon
  • Sigma Tau Delta
  • Society for Human Resource Management
  • Society of Manufacturing Engineers
  • Society of Professional Journalists
  • Student Admissions Ambassadors
  • Student Affairs Pre-Professional Association
  • Student Affliates of the American Chemical Society
  • Student Association of Middle Level Educators
  • Student Athlete Advisory Committee
  • Student Health Advisory Committee
  • Student Interior Designers Of Northern Iowa
  • Student Leadership Advisory Panel
  • Student Nature Society
  • Student Reading Association
  • Student Social Work Association
  • Students Today Leaders Forever-Pay It Forward Tour
  • Students for International Peace and Security Studies
  • TESOL/Linguistics Club
  • Tau Beta Sigma
  • Teaching Educators About Mathematics
  • Technology and Engineering Education Collegiate Association
  • Textiles & Apparel Association
  • The UNI Financial Literacy Club
  • The UNI Halo Covenant
  • The University of Northern Iowa Council of Teachers of English
  • The University of Northern Iowa Masters of Social Work Student Association
  • The University of Northern Iowa Supporters of the United States Army
  • To Write Love On Her Arms UNI
  • Turkish Students Association
  • UNI 4 Kids
  • UNI Accounting Club
  • UNI Advocates for Alzheimers
  • UNI African Union
  • UNI Archery Sports Club
  • UNI Badminton Club
  • UNI Ballroom/Swing
  • UNI Blackhawk Ever Enthusiastic Rooters
  • UNI Business Prelaw Club
  • UNI Capoeira Sports Club
  • UNI Chess Club
  • UNI Circle K Club
  • UNI Climate Movement
  • UNI Collegiate 4-H Club
  • UNI Construction Management Club
  • UNI Dance Marathon
  • UNI Disc Golf Club
  • UNI English Club
  • UNI Entrepreneurs
  • UNI Feminist Action League
  • UNI Fencing Club
  • UNI Forensics Speech and Debate Teams
  • UNI Habitat for Humanity
  • UNI Hardwoods
  • UNI Harry Potter Club
  • UNI Health Science Club
  • UNI Hockey Club
  • UNI Mandarin Chinese Club
  • UNI Mens Ultimate Frisbee Sport Club
  • UNI Mens Volleyball Sport Club
  • UNI Model United Nations Competition Team
  • UNI National Wild Turkey Federation
  • UNI Panthers Allied with Local Schools
  • UNI Percussive Arts Society
  • UNI Physics Club
  • UNI Pre-Chiropractic Club
  • UNI Pre-Occupational Therapy Club
  • UNI Pre-Pharmacy Club
  • UNI Printmaking Society
  • UNI Proud
  • UNI Quidditch Club
  • UNI Right to Life
  • UNI SAVE (Students Against a Violent Environment
  • UNI Salsa Club
  • UNI Ski & Snowboard Sports Club
  • UNI Sociology Club
  • UNI Solar Panthers Club
  • UNI Student Theatre Association
  • UNI Supply Chain Management Association
  • UNI Tae Kwon-Do Club
  • UNI Tennis Sport Club
  • UNI Trap and Skeet
  • UNI USITT United States Institute of Theatre Technology Student Chapter
  • UNI Varsity Mens Glee Club
  • UNI Veterans Association
  • UNI Women in Physics Club
  • UNI Womens Soccer Sport Club
  • UNI Womens Ultimate Frisbee Sport Club
  • UNIBusiness Global Associates
  • University of Northern Iowa Anthropological Association
  • University of Northern Iowa Cycling Sport Club
  • University of Northern Iowa Freethinkers and Inquirers
  • University of Northern Iowa Geography Club
  • University of Northern Iowa Grafx Club
  • University of Northern Iowa Longboarding Association
  • University of Northern Iowa March of Dimes
  • University of Northern Iowa Pre-Physical Therapy Club
  • University of Northern Iowa Psychology Club
  • University of Northern Iowa Student Athletic Training Organization
  • University of Northern Iowa Student Cable Programming Service (UNI Sketch)
  • University of Northern Iowa Student Early Childhood Association
  • University of Northern Iowa Students Today Alumni Tomorrow
  • University of Northern Iowa Students Together for the Advancement of Reproductive Rights
  • University of Northern Iowa Tourism Assocation
  • University of Northern Iowa Triathlon Team Sport Club
  • Vocal AmmUNItion

A note from Adam Butler.

Prof Adam Butler sent us this note sharing his concern for the recent budget fiasco. We have posted this to raise awareness of a faculty members concern.

Academic freedom is a significant component of free-thought and inquiry. Shared governance, whereby faculty members participate in important decisions regarding the university, preserves and protects academic freedom. Unfortunately, the actions of President Allen and Provost Gibson have seriously eroded shared governance at UNI. These include recent academic program cuts and the imposition of an overly narrow definition of faculty scholarly activity, both of which were undertaken without faculty consultation.

On Monday and Tuesday (Feb 27-28), UNI faculty will observe a minute of silence in classes as a symbolic protest over the loss of our voice in the decision-making process at the University. I hope that UNIFI members will support UNI faculty during this protest.

You can do two things: (1) Email and tell him you support shared governance, and (2) If you observe a protest during class, take a photo and post it on Facebook with an acknowledgement of your support.