By Sadie Slager
To prevent copyright infringement and potential lawsuits against students and the university, Information Services has blocked file sharing applications like BitTorrent from being run on campus.
These peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing and systems are used to share legal content among millions of computers. They are also used to illegally distribute copyrighted content, which leads to copyright violations. Copyright violations consist of unauthorized copying and distribution.
Chief Information Officer Brian Rellinger said Information Services receives 15 to 20 copyright violation notifications per semester, but some violations go unnoticed.
“Certainly more students are using these applications but do not get caught,” he said.
Rellinger said other universities have similar policies in regards to file sharing.
“More and more are blocking the applications just as we are to reduce the exposure,” he said.
When the university receives notices of copyright infringement, Rellinger said, Information Services is required to stop the student who has done it.
“Failure to do so could lead to lawsuits against the student and university,” he said.
Recent copyright infringements on campus include illegal viewing, copying and distribution of popular television shows, such as the fifth season of “Breaking Bad.” In this case, the student was committing an infringement on Sony Pictures Television, Inc., who owns the show’s copyright.
Rellinger said Information Services does not seek out P2P activity, but rather copyright owners are the ones who track it.
“Copyright owners monitor traffic and report violations to the university,” he said. “Once we are notified, we trace the IP address back to the specific student so that we can address the issue….This typically involves shutting off that student’s network connection, finding the illegal content, and deleting the files along with the program used to download it.”
According to Rellinger, blocking P2P applications serves a number of purposes, including freeing up bandwidth for all students.
“P2P applications can consume the network’s capacity if unregulated on a college campus,” he said.
Rellinger said blocking the applications also greatly reduces legal warnings of copyright infringement on campus.
“We believe that this is the correct course of action to provide a better level of service to all students, as well as reduce the amount of illegal content being shared on the OWU campus,” he said.