Downloading Game of Thrones, Parks and Recreation or The Legend of Korra can garner a $20,000 fine, but that has not stopped Rice students from doing it. According to Information Technology Security Officer Marc Scarborough, those shows are some of the few that have recently had a large amount of downloads.Scarborough said Rice's IT department does not monitor student activity and responds solely to notices from companies directly contacting him regarding copyright infringement from downloading on the Rice Owls network."[The IT department doesn't] detect illegal activity," Scarborough said. "It's not Rice. It's [the content provider] deciding how they want to distribute material."Scarborough said he has previously received notices for illegal downloads of music, movies, games, software, and textbooks or e-books through programs including BitTorrent, uTorrent, Ares and eMonkey."It's all over the place. It seems like there are patterns of 'today it's HBO and Game of Thrones,' next week it's e-books, some days it's movies, some days it's music," Scarborough said. "There's not a consistent thing about it ... There might be three [notices] a week, or there might be 15 a week. I'd say on average, [we receive] three or four [notices] a week."Scarborough said the notices he receives contain information on the material downloaded and the time and date it was accessed, as well as the Internet Protocol address of the computer used for downloading. He said he then connects the IP address to a specific user on the network - almost always a student - and passes the case on to Student Judicial Programs.Senior Associate General Counsel Joe Davidson said Rice receives 300 to 350 copyright infringement notifications per year for illegal downloads.Due to the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, every source that acts as an Internet service provider, which includes Rice University, must have an individual who can act as the agent of service and process. Davidson acts as the contact for Rice University and thus receives the notices from companies."For music and movies, the notices come from the rights holders, while pornography copyrights are typically enforced by umbrella organizations," Davidson said. "You're seeing a lot of increased enforcement [over the past six years] because the enforcement is [no longer] done manually; it's done by Web crawlers."Davidson said there has been a large increase in the enforcement of pornography copyright laws in the last two years.He said that unlike music, television and movie copyright holders, which typically send a warning letter, pornography enforcement companies directly send a settlement letter meant for the person who downloaded the material. In such cases, the student would then have to pay the associated fines to the company and possibly seek legal counsel. "I encourage students to be very careful with their activities on the Web," Davidson said. "Copyrights can be enforced against you, and you can be liable for statutory damages, [which are] mandatory minimum fines [that may be] $20,000 per violation. It's not worth it. Go buy the copy."Charlotte Larson, a Jones College sophomore, said she was fined $100 because she had illegally downloaded music in spring 2012. As a result, her computer was placed under quarantine, which invalidates a student's Rice Owls network connection. Once she paid the fine, the quarantine was removed, but she was fined once more a month later for illegally downloading music again. Larson said she later realized a program in the "Trash" folder in her computer had been uploading music without her knowledge. "The fine had increased [since the first violation], and I didn't think it was fair," Larson said. "[I was willing] to pay $50 [of the increased fine] for the fact that it was my mistake, but at the same time, I was not actively downloading any music. [SJP] basically said that I could go through the appeal process, which could waste a lot of my time and cause my fine to actually increase."University Court Chair Evan Austin said students who dispute sanctions recommended by SJP have the right to request that their case be referred to UCourt, but such a referral requires the agreement of both the student and SJP."I've never heard of [increased sanctions for appealing a case] being a procedure, and if that's true, I would be concerned, but I've never heard of that," Austin, a Duncan College senior, said.Larson said she paid the fine in full and chose not to appeal SJP's decision. However, even after she paid the fine, her computer was still under quarantine. According to Larson, she visited the IT department at least three times a week over a period of two to three weeks before her computer was unquarantined."IT kept saying it was my computer's fault, and in the process of trying to get my Internet [access] back, they actually caused my hard drive to crash," Larson said. "One of the higher-ups in IT had failed to communicate to the person in charge of [removing the quarantine on] the computer that I was, in fact, ready to be unquarantined."According to Larson, for most of her ordeal, she received help from students at the IT Help Desk. She said she was happy with the aid she received from the students at the IT Help Desk but said she would have preferred to speak with someone higher up in the IT department much sooner than she was able to."It was extremely challenging for me to be quarantined because all of my homework assignments and notes were online. I wish that the process had happened quicker," Larson said. "I'm not trying to attack IT - what happened was a genuine mistake - but there could be some improvements in the communication within IT."Baker College sophomore Victor Prieto said the punishment for illegal downloading should reflect the circumstances surrounding it, regardless of the material."Textbooks are still intellectual property, and if you need it for a class, you should pay for it," Prieto said. "I don't think that downloading music should be penalized more than downloading textbooks, even [in] an academic context."Student Computer Consultant Wesley Fan, who an employee of the IT Help Desk, said a distinction should be made between what the Help Desk can and cannot do."The Help Desk is part of IT, but the network administrators are in charge of [the quarantine] process," Fan, a Martel College junior said. "If you have questions about what is considered illegal or legal, the IT Help Desk can answer those questions."Scarborough said students who have questions about the legality of downloading on the Rice Owls network should approach IT."Generally, my advice to people is 'if it's something you normally have to pay for, then it's something you should be wary of,' " Scarborough said. "We have one policy from IT that directly impacts students: Don't break the law. Don't infringe on anyone's copyright."