P2P File Sharing

P2P File Sharing (Torrent, KaZaa, Limewire, etc.)

The Internet, "Free" Music, "Free" Movies, Big Fines and Jail Time

What do these things have in common?

SUU has recently received several notices that people on this campus have been involved with downloading and sharing copyrighted music, movies, software, etc. Students as well as employees on campus will be held legally responsible for the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing services. Some have pointed out that people copy pages out of copyrighted books all the time. Copy machines are available all over campus, including in the library, for people to use. No one seems to care about what people are copying. So why does anyone care about what people do on their computers? The following two reasons are very important. One, peer-to-peer file sharing uses so much of the available bandwidth that important work suffers. Two, file swapping can be tracked on the Internet to identify who is swapping files. Copyright holders are prosecuting file swappers and the owners of suspect IP addresses. At SUU, the IP addresses being used belong to the campus, which makes the campus legally liable. The campus cannot afford a law suit. Therefore, in order to protect the campus, the Information Technology department must take the side of any prosecuting party and help them as much as is legally possible. According to the Campus Computing, Internet Use, and Network Security Policy, www.suu.edu/pub/policies/ Section 5.2 subsection V, "all users of university computing resources must comply with all federal, Utah, and other applicable law; all applicable university policies; and all applicable contracts and licenses." This includes copyright laws.

The Bandwidth Issue

About a year ago the bandwidth problem first became evident. It was first noticeable by the number of complaints about the slow Internet access. This slow down was due to all of the bandwidth being used up by the peer-to-peer file sharing. During the investigation of how to stop the file sharing, the campus received the first formal notice informing us that someone on our campus was sharing enabling keys for copyrighted software. These notices come with enough information to track down the individual machine and the person responsible. To avoid the legal hassle, the computer was removed, the hard drive erased, and only the necessary software was replaced before returning the machine. This incident only accelerated the effort to block the file sharing.

The campus is protected by a firewall that keeps people on the outside from hacking the computers on campus. It can also be used to stop on campus computers from gaining access to select services off campus. As one P2P service was blocked, people would just move to another, and the traffic bottleneck would return. It took several months, but by the middle of spring 2002 we felt we had a pretty good handle on the traffic problem. A few services may not have been stopped, but they weren't very common and people wouldn't use them for very long. These services automatically loaded a lot of other unwanted software and advertisements that would degrade a machine's performance to the point it was nearly unusable within a couple of months. Many computers on campus had to have Windows reinstalled from scratch. That usually was a painful enough experience to keep people from trying again.

Then during the summer of 2002 Kazaa released Kazaa2, which totally changed the whole picture. They, as well as several other P2P services, adopted a new sharing protocol which could no longer be stopped by a firewall. Equipment that can stop it is very expensive at this time. This school year, Internet utilization at SUU has continued to grow. On November 11, 2002, the student newspaper of Utah State University published an article that helps explain the bandwidth problem.

THE UTAH STATESMAN: Speeding Up the Campus Internet by Josh Dustin

The Internet connection at Utah State University is fed from two DS-3s that we share with most of the other higher and lower educational institutions in Northern Utah.

The signal level of a DS-3 is equivalent to 28 T1 channels, or about 44.736 Mbps each direction. Since we have two DS-3s, we have the equivalent of 56 T1 channels. That's 89.472 Mbps download, and 89.472 Mbps upload. The cost of one DS-3 is about $40,000 per month, and again, we have two.

Miles Johnson , of USU Network and Computing Services, said if we didn't limit file-sharing programs like Morpheus and Limewire, the bandwidth needed to support the University would go up approximately five fold. Five times our current usage would be 10 DS-3s, costing roughly $400,000 a month.

Internet access at this university is a privilege. It is provided by the Utah Education Network and must be used for educational purposes only.

If you live in housing and can't get a different provider, remember that you attend an educational institution and you connect to its network. The full article can be found at www.utahstatesman.com (registration is required for login). The Internet connection at SUU is a singe DS-3 that is shared with the public ed institutions from Milford to Lake Powell, as well as Dixie State College, Snow College and all the public ed institutions around them as well. That alone demands prudent use by everyone involved. In an effort to protect the speed of the Internet to this campus, efforts will continue to be made to stop the file sharing.

The Legal Issue

Over twenty P2P services are available. Kazaa appears to be the most popular but legally they are all the same. When a person downloads the Kazaa software, they must agree to the license terms before they are able to download it. That agreement includes the following; (Please notice 6.3):

2 What you can't do under this Licence You agree not to use the Software to: 2.1 Transmit or communicate any data that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable; 2.6 Transmit, access or communicate any data that infringes any patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright or other proprietary rights of any party; 6 Copyright Infringement 6.1 Sharman respects copyright and other laws. Sharman requires all Kazaa Media Desktop users to comply with copyright and other laws. Sharman does not by the supply of the Software authorize you to infringe the copyright or other rights of third parties. 6.2 As a condition to use the Software, you agree that you must not use the Software to infringe the intellectual property or other rights of others, in any way. The unauthorized reproduction, distribution, modification, public display, communication to the public or public performance of copyrighted works is an infringement of copyright. 6.3 Users are entirely responsible for their conduct and for ensuring that it complies with all applicable copyright and data-protection laws. In the event a user fails to comply with laws regarding copyrights or other intellectual property rights and data-protection and privacy, such a user may be exposed to civil and criminal liability, including possible fines and jail time.

The movie and music recording industries are cracking down on piracy. Colleges and universities are definitely on their target list. On November 26, 2002 the New York Times www.nytimes.com published an article that demonstrates this.


In the most severe crackdown yet on online piracy at a college campus, the U.S. Naval Academy has seized 100 computers from students who are suspected of having downloaded unauthorized copies of music files over the Internet.

School officials confiscated the computers when students were in class on Thursday, an academy spokesman said yesterday. Students found to have downloaded copyrighted material could face penalties ranging from loss of leave time to court-martial and expulsion.

The academy was one of 2,300 colleges to receive a letter from entertainment industry organizations last month requesting help in cracking down on unauthorized file swapping.

The record industry largely attributes the decline in CD sales over the last 18 months to digital piracy, and has brought increasing pressure on institutions in a position to identify and discipline the downloaders.

" 'Theft' is a harsh word," the letter to colleges stated, "but that it is, pure and simple. Students must know that if they pirate copyrighted works they are subject to legal liability." With the recent notices of violation, very little has been done. So far, the person has been contacted and asked to stop. After discussions with campus police and campus legal counsel, it has been determined that any future notices will be handled differently. The individual will be identified and as much information as is legally possible (name, phone number, address, etc.) will be given to the prosecuting party. The offending person may only receive a campus E-mail informing them that such has occurred. By that time, even if the person does delete every trace of the software, enough information will have been gathered to stand up in court. Your best protection against any of these increasingly harsh consequences is to obey the law and respect the legal rights of the copyright holders. The University will continue to cooperate with the copyright holders in every way possible. It is quite clear that anyone prosecuted and convicted will be made an example to others. What you thought you were getting for free may ultimately cost a much higher price than you would ever want to pay.


Related Articles: