Do you enjoy those free entertainment downloads from the Internet? You might soon be out of luck on campus.
The battle against online pirating is ceaseless – attempting to block or stop illegal downloading is like waging an indefinitely long war. Ripping music, movies, and even textbooks from the Internet is a simple task for some, and an easy way to skirt the fees companies charge for their copyrighted material.
But recently, CC’s IT and network management has blocked torrenting.
The blockage was instituted several weeks ago, Daniel Armstrong, Director of Network and Systems Services said.
“Torrenting is peer-to-peer file transport…you’ve got one client that sends the file to maybe 10 other people and they are all sharing it,” Armstrong said. “Originally people were using it to share pictures… While it does have legitimate uses, you’ll find that a very high percentage of usage is copyrighted material like music, movies, and images.”
Even textbooks are victims of online piracy as more and more frequently, electronic texts are being bootlegged.
“You are then dealing with companies with a large audience in the academic area and it would be a bigger deal for them,” Armstrong said.
Still, music and movies are the main draw.
“Torrenting is an easy way of getting media such as music and movies. Of course, it is illegal,” a student who asked to remain anonymous said. “However, its ability to procure anything one wants inexpensively and conveniently is such a temptation.”
Since 2003, CC has utilized a Procera, a device to control network traffic. At that time, approximately 4 megabytes (MB) of bandwidth were allotted for peer-to-peer file transports. Since then, bandwidth has increased a substantial amount.
Today, CC’s bandwidth tops out at 250 MB while the MB apportioned for peer-to-peer file transport has remained at 4 MB, said Armstrong.
If left unchecked, peer-to-peer traffic eventually fills up all the Internet bandwidth, causing irregularities of the Internet for all network users.
“In about 2001-2002, the Internet use at CC skyrocketed due to peer-to-peer file-sharing services,” said David Ziemba, a network engineer. “We couldn’t increase the bandwidth quickly enough, and eventually a project started to manage the bandwidth. This project marked the mission-critical academic and administrative needs of the highest priority for Internet use.”
“From 2002 through today, CC has managed Internet priorities with the same policy,” Ziemba said. “The service remained available at a reduced capacity to allow the best possible experience for academic and administrative needs.”
Prior to the throttling of peer-to-peer file transport on the network, Ziemba began to receive several very specific Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notifications weekly.
“Personally, I feel that having the notice letters on my desk listing multiple alleged violations seems considerably serious,” Ziemba said. “The notices identify alleged distribution of material, a content/filename title, a specific time, date, and an Internet network address of a workstation.”
“The notices would say that we were sending out illegal information or copyrighted material…we would try to find the person who was [torrenting] and send them that notice to make them aware,” Armstrong said.
“Since implementing [the block], we have not received a single DMCA infraction,” Armstrong continued. “From the standpoint of the college it just makes sense to implement [a block] because generally speaking, there hasn’t been a legitimate business or college reason to allow it.”
Had CC continued to let pirated material slip through its Internet network, corresponding fines could have been charged to the college.
“Although I feel it is excessive to block torrenting, I do not believe it infringes on my rights,” said another student who asked to remain anonymous. “The school does pay for the [bandwidth] and I did agree to the school’s conditions upon entering CC.”
Sites like the notorious Swedish site The Pirate Bay pride themselves on millions of torrents available for users to illicitly download music, games, software, and any sort of electronic media. In a 2011 open letter from the Motion Picture Association of America, it was estimated that annually, $58 billion is lost from the U.S. economy due to content theft.
As long as you’re on campus, administrators will be working hard to make sure that you are not part of that staggering statistic.