While some Ohio University students and their parent(s) eagerly await the opportunity to share the bonding ritual of having a few drinks together in a college bar, it is unfortunate that Mom’s and Dad’s Weekends are ruined for some families when the underage student is later arrested by the police for being under the influence of alcohol. Ultimately, this situation usually occurs when the parent has left the bar and/or gone home early and the student is no longer under “parental supervision”. There are three elements to the charge of underage drinking: possession, consumption and being under the influence in a public place. Any of these components by themselves or any combination thereof can result in a citation and/or arrest by the police. Even though Ohio law allows the student to avoid the consequences of being charged with underage possession or consumption of alcohol when the parent purchases the drinks, the student still faces the danger of being charged with “being under the influence” of alcohol in a public place when a parent is absent. Here is an example from a previous Dad’s weekend:
A student and her father were drinking together at one of the uptown bars. The student had consumed a “few” drinks, but she says she did not drink enough to be obviously impaired. The dad and daughter parted ways when he went home and the student and her friend walked to their residence hall. During their walk, the student allegedly made a rude gesture at a passing car, prompting a nearby police officer to approach and ask her if she had been drinking. The student admitted her age and that she had consumed alcohol with her father. She was cited with underage because she was believed to be intoxicated in a public place and not under the supervision of her parent.
Fortunately, the Athens City Prosecutors will usually dismiss such cases where it can be proven that the parent did purchase the alcohol and consume it with the student, but the student has to pay the court costs ($104.00) to have the case dismissed.
If have drinks with your mom this weekend and are later stopped by police after you’ve gone your separate ways, make it known to the police officer right away that your parent provided the alcohol.
In any other case, you must remember your legal rights when approached by the police. Under the Fifth Amendment, it is well within a citizen’s right to refuse to answer questions when approached by police. You can simply say, “My name is Jane Smith and I live at 123 Any Street (give your REAL name and address, of course!). I do not want to answer any more questions without my attorney present”. This can further protect you from being convicted if you are arrested. If you readily admit that you are under 21 and you have been drinking, it just gives the police more evidence to convict you. Not incriminating yourself can only help you in the long run. See our flier: “Survival Tips for Court Street” for additional practical advice.
Patrick McGee, Managing Attorney
Heidi Sochia, Program Coordinator
In 2007, thousands of college students, including about 100 from Ohio University, were sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for illegally downloading music from file sharing internet sites such as LimeWire and Kazaa. Although most law suits were filed in Federal Court in Columbus or Cincinnati, The Center for Student Legal Services provided advice and assisted students in obtaining settlements with the record companies. Now, the Motion Picture Association of America and individual movie studios are following in the RIAA’s footsteps and going after people for illegal movie downloading.
In 2011, nearly 50,000 were accused of illegally downloading one of two movies, The Hurt Locker and The Expendables. To find out the identities of the people, movie studios hired law firms to issue thousands of “John Doe” subpoenas to internet service providers such as Verizon, Time Warner Cable and Earthlink, asking them to provide the IP addresses of the individuals engaging in illegal downloading activity. Most of them complied and handed over about 50 to 100 IPs per month. This strategy is tricky and often unfair because tracking illegal downloading through IP addresses doesn’t take into account that more than one person likely uses the computer(s) linked to that IP address. Also, more than one residence can be linked to one IP address, such as in a duplex or apartment building. (reference: http://money.cnn.com/2011/06/10/technology/bittorrent_lawsuits/index.htm)
The RIAA used the same strategy to identify illegal music downloads and in those cases, Ohio University was asked to turn over the IP addresses of students who illegally downloaded music using the Ohio University network. The same can happen with movie studios that are out to find individuals illegally downloading movies. In 2007, The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) compiled a list of the top 25 schools that engaged in movie piracy and Ohio University was number 18 on the list. (source: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2007/04/mpaa-names-its-top-25-movie-piracy-schools.ars).
In response to the 2007 file sharing lawsuits, Ohio University has de-prioritized file sharing programs on their network, making it more difficult to illegally share copyrighted files. They have also implemented technology that detects copyrighted content and redirects students to a legitimate method to obtain the desired media.
But if you live off campus and use an outside internet service provider, you should be especially aware of these lawsuits and remember that you can be sanctioned by the university for violation of Policy 91.003 – Computer and Network Use. Specifically:
“Misuse of computing, networking, information, or World Wide Web resources may result in the loss of computing privileges. Additionally, misuse can be prosecuted under applicable statutes. Offenses that are in violation of local, state, or federal laws may be reported to the appropriate university and law enforcement authorities. Users may be held accountable for their conduct under any applicable university or campus policies, procedures, or collective bargaining agreements. Complaints alleging misuse of computer resources will be directed to those responsible for taking appropriate disciplinary action. Reproduction or distribution of copyrighted works, including, but not limited to, images, text, or software, without permission of the owner is an infringement of U.S. Copyright Law and is subject to civil damages and criminal penalties including fines and imprisonment. Violators will be subject to university rules and regulations.” (source: http://www.ohio.edu/oit/security/copyright/)
Although most students settled their music downloading cases to avoid a lawsuit, the settlement price was still high, much higher than if they would have just purchased the music in the first place. The moral of the story? Just buy the movie.
Heidi Sochia, Program Coordinator
Contributors: Patrick McGee, Managing Attorney