Peer–to–Peer File Sharing Limitations
July 26, 2009 | By Damon Armour, IT Security Officer
There was a time when people could claim they didn't know any better when they downloaded music, movies, etc., from the Internet for free. We had Napster, and it was a simple way to add our favorite songs to our collections. But even when this environment was new and unregulated, we should have known the difference between right and wrong.
Augusta State University takes illegal file sharing activities very seriously. Within the last year, a federal regulation was passed into law that affects universities and how they handle peer-to-peer (P2P) activities. The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) contains provisions that require schools across America to take all necessary steps in order to reduce the illegal downloading and uploading of copyrighted materials.
This article highlights some of the main areas within the provisions of the HEOA that apply to P2P activities at ASU. Educause, a nonprofit organization that promotes information technology in education, reports that universities will be required to make an annual disclosure to campus faculty, staff, and students on the topics of illegal distribution of copyrighted materials and the civil and criminal ramifications of those actions. ASU will be creating an informational website that will direct faculty, staff, and students to accurate content provided by multiple resources.
Institutions will also need to certify with the Secretary of Education how they plan to combat the downloading and uploading of P2P files. This plan will include a combination of technological tools and awareness training. The other main requirement is the offering of alternative services. Many of these services have already been developed in the marketplace. iTunes, Rhapsody, and Amazon Music are some of the top options available on the Internet for your music collection needs. Netflix offers streaming movies on its website, and its library is growing each day. Hulu is a growing streaming video service that has current TV programming available. There are legal alternatives out there, and the fees associated with them are relatively fairly priced since the market is very competitive.
Most of the areas within the provisions on illegal file sharing will be worked out over time, and ASU will be closely following their progress. ASU continues to monitor network traffic patterns on campus, including student housing. ASU has acquired a new tool to help protect the campus and housing networks: an intrusion prevention system. One ability of this tool is to prevent or limit file sharing technologies. ASU will be implementing this system in August. If ASU is notified by any of the media publishing firms or Media Sentry, a firm hired by publishing houses to track illegal copyright infringements, ASU will pass on warning messages or letters to the offending party.
ITS can assist in removing any offending software that is facilitating the P2P filesharing. If you fear you have software on your computer that might be downloading or uploading illegal copyrighted materials, contact the ITS Help Desk (706-737-1482) for assistance.
Complete details on HEOA are available here:
If you have questions on the HEOA legislation and P2P, you can find more details on it here: http://www.educause.edu/blog/sworona/UpdateonHEOAandP2P/174432
Educause memorandum discussing HEOA can be found here: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/epo0815.pdf