UPDATED: VSU Policy: Report Peer-to-Peer File Usage to Cops

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.

H/T: Slashdot

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.”

8 comments

  1. Scott65 says:

    Here you go…the free market at work. The RIAA and MPAA using the force of government to prop up their failed business model. If you cant innovate, litigate. This is the most wasteful use of money for universities. Why the hell should they have to spend money to police students because the recording industry cant get their act together. Moreover, why should the government have to spend its resources doing the same. These people have fought innovation at every turn in the courts, and now think that all of us should help them maintain their irrelevant gravy train that does little or nothing for artists but pays big time for the corporate lawyers and executives. The DMCA was one of the worst assaults to freedom in years where these assaults were many. It needs to be repealed and the entertainment industry needs to learn to adapt or fail.

    • Steve says:

      Ehh, I don’t really care one way or the other about using a school’s high-speed network to pirate MP3’s… but what’s stupid about this is that peer-to-peer technology has much wider use than just music piracy. Linux distributions and other large software packages are published via torrent these days, and it’s also how World of Warcraft and other popular video games ship their software updates.

      You can argue that playing games and fiddling with Ubuntu aren’t appropriate for the school’s network either… but still, calling the police? I wonder how interested they’ll really be in sorting out the legitimate use from the illegitimate use.

      • Nathan says:

        This is just a lazy policy to “fight crime”. Someone in VSU’s information services office is either mis-informed, doesn’t know what the heck he’s talking about, a liar, or a combination thereof. Questions need to be asked.

    • Max Power says:

      Which once again demonstrates that while well regulated capitalism has shown itself to be the best system for addressing the issue of scarcity, if you take scarcity out of the mix it falls apart. The RIAA and MPAA are trying like heck to create an artificial limit on supply and failing.

  2. Scott65 says:

    The source article on TorrentFreak
    http://torrentfreak.com/university-begins-reporting-all-p2p-users-to-the-police-101112/
    makes the bigger point

    “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.”

    You want to go after unnecessary regulation…here is a whopper. This law is nothing short of a gimme to the entertainment cartels to prop up their failed business models

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