File sharing justifiably banned on campus Internet
October 26, 2009 —
Many students use such programs as Kazaa, LimeWire, BitTorrent and other P2P software, but for those living on campus, using P2P programs isnít an option.
P2P, or Peer-to-Peer, is technology used in networking software to distribute files without a centralized server. By sharing files between personal computers, users can download just about anything at reasonable speeds. With such useful technology, why is it not permitted on SVSUís network?
According to the Universityís policy, any P2P activity is detected on a computer accessing the network wirelessly. The computer is not only blocked until the software is turned off but removed as well. Computers connected to the ResNet are dealt with even more strictly, with the offending PCs blocked from the network entirely.
Such strict countermeasures may seem harsh, but looking into the issue reveals that the University may be fully justified in doing so.
While P2P itself is not illegal, the most common applications of it are. Downloading music, movies and games protected by copyright law is against the law, yet that doesnít stop most people.
Granted, there are certainly legitimate uses for P2P. During the early days of P2P, the technology was actually utilized in universities across the globe to transfer huge amounts of research data.
The technology is becoming even more popular for legitimate uses now as some games use P2P to release updates, and freely distributed music is often released through torrents. However, most P2P users on average are downloading illegal content.
The biggest problem with students using SVSUís network to illegally download content is a matter of liability. To say that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is enthusiastic in pursuing those who download media illegally would be a huge understatement.
If an ISP or RIAA trackers pick up on someone torrenting, they do everything in their power to level the full extent of the law against that individual. Due to the nature of current antipiracy laws, SVSU would be just as accountable as the offender. The advantages to letting students use P2P simply donít come close to the consequences of a lawsuit for piracy.
Additionally, P2P programs take a large toll on the network they run on. If even a few computers on the network ran software such as Kazaa or BitTorrent, the performance of the whole network would suffer noticeably, negatively affecting anyone else using the network.
All things considered, itís pretty clear that the choice of the University to ban P2P is a justified and reasonable one. Students who want to use such software should only do so on their own home networks, where only they have to deal with the consequences of their actions.