Valdosta State University has issued a new policy in an effort to combat piracy:
In July, the US put into effect a new requirement for colleges and universities to stop illicit file-sharing on their networks. This legislation puts defiant schools at risk of losing federal funding if they don’t do enough to stop illicit file-sharers on their campus.
Schools across the country responded appropriately to the new rules and some have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to install anti-file-sharing systems on their network. This week, Valdosta State University (VSU) upgraded theirs. According to the university it can now identify students who use P2P software, and those who are caught will be reported to the police.
“Once individuals are identified, VSU hands responsibility over to police. Users can face felony punishments, including a possible prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000 per offense,” reports the student newspaper.
I’m sure fellow geeks on here would agree with me that this policy goes way too far. As the folks over at Slashdot said, it’s one thing to ban peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing because it sucks up bandwidth, but calling the police? Ludicrous. There are legitimate uses for P2P (such as sharing documents and such rather than storing them on a central server), but it has gotten a bad rap for people using it for illegal purposes. I thought those accused of a crime were innocent until proven guilty? This policy is ridiculous and goes too far.
With that said, do not engage in piracy. It is illegal.
UPDATE: I received an email from a former employee in Valdosta State’s IT department and has been assured that there is no tracking of P2P software usage on the campus, and that they are not in the business of turning students over to the police. The student newspaper article has since been taken down from the Valdosta State Spectator website.
Statement from Joe Newton, Director of Information Technology at Valdosta State:
“The Spectator article was, unfortunately, factually in error. While our process is not yet defined, we currently do not hand over students to the Police nor have we purchased software to hunt them down and I cannot foresee that we would ever do so. I hope to have a correction made as soon as possible.”