Students returning to college campuses this Fall may find that some strict anti-piracy measures have been taken with their school’s network over the Summer.
The changes are the result of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) which was passed in 2008 and officially took effect July, 1 2010. The bill states that any school accepting federal money must notify students about copyright infringement issues and use an approved deterrent on campus networks. Schools who are not in compliance with these measures risk losing federal funding.
Though this sounds fairly strict, the regulations do allow schools some flexibility in how they choose to implement the deterrents. Approved HEOA antipiracy measures include bandwidth shaping, network traffic monitoring systems, P2P blocking software, and less intrusive student notification programs.
Cornell, for example, is only implementing a program that will ensure prompt response to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices and impose student sanctions for violations. The school has stated that they will not be monitoring or blocking network traffic.
In stark contrast to Cornell’s gentle measure, Southern Connecticut State University will be closely monitoring network activity. The school will identify and closely watch students who use large amounts of bandwidth, and will also impose blocks on all known P2P applications.
Other schools are even resorting to packet-shaping software, like BlueCoat and Packeteer, or setting campus firewalls to block all inbound ports used for P2P file sharing.
But could all of these preventative measures just be an unnecessary drain on the schools’ already tight budgets?
Studies have shown that MPAA data regarding campus piracy may have been inflated, showing 3 times more illegal activity that is actually occurring, and that campuses actually account for very little P2P activity. If that is true, HEOA rules seem to have been put into place simply to appease the MPAA, which spent a great deal lobbying Congress.
Even with all of these added measures, students are going to find ways to use file-sharing programs if they wish. Since none of these rules govern off-campus networks, bypassing regulations is as simple as going to a friend’s house or tapping into an unsecured wi-fi connection.
I just don’t agree at all with the US government passing this burden onto colleges. The educational system has enough to worry about without monitoring student downloads too.