Tampa may have Gasparilla, but Gainesville has been ranked as the “pirate” capital of the U.S. — at least in terms of illegal downloads.
The report, released Wednesday by Musicmetric, was based on the number of illegal downloads per capita by tracking BitTorrent downloads during the first half of the year. According to a press release, the study tracked the downloaded files and locations of users, but not their identities.
Musicmetric, based in London, measures and analyzes musical trends across the U.S.
Albany, Ga.; Fairbanks, Alaska; Lexington, Ken., and Tallahassee came in just behind Gainesville.
Amy Landers, visiting professor of law at UF, said the study doesn’t necessarily mean Gainesville’s residents — particularly students — don’t care about copyright laws. She said because the study doesn’t track the identities of users, there’s no reason to jump to the conclusion that UF students are to blame.
“There’s no reason to think that a college student would be less respectful of the law,” she said.
Landers, who specializes in intellectual property law, said she recommends avoiding all illegal downloading.
UF also bans peer-to-peer file sharing software on computers logged into UF’s network and restricts devices that have those programs installed, according to UF’s DHNet Internet Services website.
“It is a civil and criminal violation of the law,” Landers said. “The music industry has been aggressive about pursuing lawsuits.”
Glenn Bean, a 26-year-old fourth-year materials engineering Ph.D. student, said the findings don’t surprise him because there are so many students in Gainesville.
“It’s never good to be ranked highest for any sort of illegal activity,” he said.
Andrew Schaer, owner of Hear Again Music and Movies, said he feels let down by the findings. He said his music store isn’t doing as well as it has in the past, and piracy has been a contributing factor.
“I do believe that the people of Gainesville are good-natured,” he said. “I don’t believe people want to steal.”
Schaer said students might download music illegally because they don’t have enough money to buy it, but he said that’s still not a valid excuse.
“You don’t just walk into a place and take a painting off the wall,” he said.