Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Universities and File-Sharing

Interesting that this scan won't be used to deny or limit network access and can't be used to initiate a copyright infringement case. I'm not sure how long that will last, since the University currently scans for anti-virus and firewall software to allow a computer on the campus network. The stated reason for scanning computers and notifying users of the "dangers" of illegal file sharing is bandwidth. A trial of the system at their school of dentistry bumped throughput from 10 Mb/s to 25 Mb/s. Clearly, the cost of dealing with copyright complaints - about $40,000 per year at UNC - is a factor as well.

Although notification system can't be used to initate a copyright infringement case, the University still "encounter[s] weekly issues with students having copyright complaints filed against them from various media organizations, including the MPAA and the RIAA."

The penalty?
If a student is found illegally sharing files, the first offense leads to a loss of network access until completion of a training course and a meeting with ITS security officials. A second offence leads to a longer loss of network access and a referral to Honor Court.

The Daily Tar Heel :: Scan to notify illegal sharers:
Beginning Tuesday, computers accessing the Internet in residence halls will automatically be scanned for file-sharing programs.

The Network Access Control service will scan for file sharing programs such as BitTorrent and LimeWire. If the service detects a file-sharing program, a pop-up message will notify him of the dangers of illegal sharing and ways to securely use the program.

Network access will not be suspended and no legal action can be taken against the student, as the program cannot be used as criminal evidence.

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