Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Review -- "RIAA v. U: the state of P2P file sharing on campus"

Direct link to article:

Now, I'm not raggin' on Mary Washington, but this school's bandwidth (or lack thereof) sucks. There is nothing more infuriating than having a friend from another school (with better bandwidth.. AND WiFi) send me a couple of songs over AIM.. and having to wait 45 minutes to receive the files. There's also the matter of LimeWire PRO never reaching "Turbo" status; A.K.A. no new music when I want it. Even iTunes has to rebuff their 20-second streaming clips every 5 seconds when I want to listen to the newest jamz dem young'ns be playin'. I could probably write this blog entry and another one while I wait for a YouTube video to load. If I continue talking about this, I'm going to get a hernia.

Missouri University of Science & Technology upped their bandwidth this year. That means faster song transfers between buds on AIM, LimeWire at one's immediate disposal, all the iTunes song samples one could ask for, and 28,371,954 fully loaded YouTube videos at once. Kind of. It also means relatively instant P2P filesharing (as an increase in bandwidth allows for the apps to.. run like they're supposed to). However, because someone has to make life difficult, Systems Security Analyst Karl Lutzen designed a program for MUoS&T students to take a quiz before being able to access P2P applications. Default settings on all user accounts are so that P2P access is completely blocked until the user takes a quiz on P2P use. If the user passes, his/her account's "subscription" to P2P access is upgraded to an extra 6 hours. Students get 4 of these 6-hour activations per month.
Additionally, MU's new bandwidth management hardware allows for admin to allott bandwidth on a user to user basis. Simply put, Dobb's access to the network can be cut neatly at the same time Dunbar has complete access to said network. The upgraded hardware can also detect transmission of data between the network's computers with reasonable accuracy. What better machine is there to regulate the use of P2P applications?
Since the implentation of this new program, DMCA rants to the school have dropped significantly (200/yr to 7/yr). The DMCA, or Digital Millenium Copyright Act, basically outlaws any tech that can jump the copyright fence and enable access to said restricted works/property -- stuff one would find on any reputable P2P application. Before Lutzen and the school's Big-Brotherly bandwidth management hardware, numerous students were bombarded with notices from DMCA, and some even received letters from the RIAA (including a hefty fine of $3-4k stapled). The IT department at the scho
ol also would spend countless migraine-inducing hours handling DMCA takedowns. Overall, this new quiz excercise to increase awareness of the many potential illegalities that are strung to P2P applications has solved a lot of problems and saved a lot of time at MU.
Q: "Why does the school allow access to P2P file-share at all?"
A: World of Warcraft, along with other MMORPGs (look it up, if you care), are P2P applications and completely legal. (I laughed when I read this.)

Creativeness: 8/10
Irratibility: 7/10
Effectiveness: 9/10
It seems other schools have taken measures to deal with P2P traffic/problems.
Stanford University simply blocks frequent P2P violaters who have to pay up to $1,000 to get back on the school's network. Colorado-Boulder functions similarily in that they give each user 3 strikes before they're outted from the school's network, but students here don't
have to pay a fee to be reconnected, and so on..

I suppose if schools want to rid themselves of the entire
P2P/DMCA/RIAA mess AND save money, they should just take after Mary Washington and decrease bandwidth to the point that students just.. give up.
My Google video is still loading. Hate.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I think that any form of means to improve the school’s bandwidth is an effort that Mary Washington should take. It is very frustrating trying to load a YouTube video or even download anything from the internet without it taking at least 30 minutes. Granted, the Mary Washington students could go on campus or go to the library to receive wireless internet, but most students just want to have quick access to the internet as soon as possible. Even if it means taking a quiz to show the student’s awareness of P2P sharing. People have said that Mary Washington is improving the bandwidth this year; we’re all just waiting for that to happen.