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Illegal File Sharing Rooted Out at Ohio U, Say Admins

Ohio University boasted that, following  crackdown, illegal file sharing via its campus networks has been eradicated. University CIO Brice Bible said that illegal file-sharing on the university's network had "virtually stopped," according to a report in the Athens (OH) Times.

According to an OU press announcement, since April 27, IT staff members have shut off 240 network users for unauthorized file sharing, including users of a file-sharing setup operating on the university network.

Bible has measured the success of the crackdown in part from metrics supplied by the Recording Industry Association of American. RIAA has been monitoring illegal downloading on campus and pursuing violators with lawsuits. Recently it filed a federal copyright-infringement lawsuit against 10 "John Doe" OU students.

Before filing the suit, the RIAA sent out 50 warning letters to offending students and has since sent more such letters with the threat of litigation unless the recipients make a cash settlement.

"After just two weeks, Recording Industry Association of America notices of illegal file-sharing detection have dropped to nearly zero as compared with 10 to 50 per day before," Bible said in the OU release. "I am pleased that we had such good results in a short time. And we did it without having to restrict legal uses of P2P technology."

OU claimed it can distinguish between legal and illegal file sharing by filtering both encrypted file-sharing and unencrypted P2P programs sharing copyrighted information, while permitting legitimate file sharing of movie trailers, security patches, and the like.

Bible warned that P2P protocols "can make the system prone to security vulnerabilities, making it easier for hackers to find ways into a computer system.... Some P2P protocols also can act like spyware. The fewer of these malicious tools on our system, the better.

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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