Nearly one hundred students at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, have had their computers seized by the administration there, according to The Capital.
The midshipmens' rooms were raided during classes at the Academy on Thursday in a search for computers which allegedly contained illegal copies of music and movies. The media were most likely downloaded from peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing services.
We previously reported that University of Georgia freshman Ben Albert was the subject of disciplinary action after downloading Austin Powers to his dorm room. That action revealed an unfortunate new anti-P2P intimidation tactic, aimed at the most innocent level of the file sharing phenomenon, and taken at the behest of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
The MPAA in October sent a letter to schools across the nation, urging them to intervene in the file sharing phenomenon. An MPAA spokeswoman confirmed that the Naval Academy was a recipient of the letter, but at press time, the Academy has made no official statement surrounding the raid, other than that an investigation is in progress.
The Naval Academy's action mirrors what occured in Georgia on a grander scale. Nearly one hundred young students - with previously bright futures - are now without their computers and may face court-martial or other discipline - for simply downloading media which they could hardly afford to purchase otherwise. A court-martial can destroy a student's chances of having a successful military career.
The midshipmen normally pay for their computers over the course of their education, through monthly deductions from their paychecks.