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College Student arrest for Copyright Violation

Colonie -- Students face felony charges alleging computer crimes

Two Siena College students accused of illegally using school computer systems to download and distribute pirated software have withdrawn from the college, officials said.

John Zampier Jr. of Albany and Jeremy Jones of Ballston Lake -- both 20-year-old sophomores -- were given appearance tickets Tuesday on three felony charges alleging computer crimes, according to State Police.

The two are accused of copying expensive software programs -- including games and graphics programs -- on their own computers and allowing computer users around the world to download the programs free of charge, according to college officials and police.

The software allegedly was being distributed to users as far away as Australia who were downloading the programs through Siena's Internet access.

College officials were tipped when they noticed a high amount of Internet traffic they traced to the on-campus dormitory town house where Zampier and Jones lived. The Internet activity was so high it was tying up the school's system, officials said.

Accompanied by campus police, college officials raided the town house last October and seized computers and documents that were turned over to State Police. A four-month investigation ensued and Zampier and Jones each were charged Tuesday with three felonies: computer trespass, unlawful duplication of computer related materials, and criminal possession of computer related materials, according to police.

"There was just page after page after page of places this stuff had been distributed, most of it going to private individuals all over the U.S. and the world," said Siena spokesman Bryan Jackson.

Officials estimate the value of the software distributed at about $150,000. But there is no indication either student profited from the alleged crimes, Jackson added.

Zampier's father, a 1955 Siena graduate, described his son as a "naive" young man intrigued by computers most of his life.

"The distortion people are getting is that their impression is they sold $150,000 worth of programs," Zampier said. "They weren't selling it to anybody, at least my son wasn't. He's devastated by all this."

Zampier said his son was so distraught after officials raided his room that he switched his major from computer science to accounting and lost interest in computers. The younger Zampier never told his parents about the raid and thought nothing would come of it, his father said.

Three weeks ago, Zampier learned about the investigation when Siena mailed him a letter stating that his son was being cited for various college infractions.

Siena students have free Internet access and most have their own computers, officials said. But when students enroll, they are warned in several documents, including a student handbook, that there are restrictions. Copying software is among the practices prohibited.

Zampier and Jones allegedly used a third roommate's Internet access to help distribute software over the Internet without the roommate's knowledge. Using another person's account without their permission is also prohibited by the college, officials said.

Even though Zampier withdrew from school rather than face an internal judicial process, his father said his son would still like to return to the college.

"My son had the feeling it was not a very big thing," Zampier said. "He doesn' t understand the magnitude they're making it to be. He still wants to go back to Siena."

Jones could not be reached for comment.

"Reprinted with Permission, Times Union Albany, NY Copyright 2000"

Contact
A.Harry Williams
Harry.Williams@marist.edu

 
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Last modified: 5 Jun 2013

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