University Of Kansas' New File Sharing Rule: One Strike And You're Out

The University of Kansas has a harsh message for its students: illegally download copyrighted material and you’ll spend the rest of your college days checking Facebook in the computer lab. The university previously operated under a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy. From Kansas University ResNet:

Violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is against the law. If you are caught downloading copyrighted material, you will lose your ResNet privileges forever. No second notices, no excuses, no refunds. One violation and your ResNet internet access is gone for as long as you reside on campus.

According to the university, the policy shift was prompted by an increasing number of takedown notices; 345 were received last year, up from 141 the year before. Though not asked for comment, we imagine the overlords at the RIAA and MPAA would respond with something akin to maniacal cackling.

University of Kansas adopts one-strike policy for copyright infringement [Ars Technica]
ReNet [University of Kansas]
(Photo: AP)

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  1. mopar_man says:

    It’s apparent that U of K will bow down to the RIAA/MPAA so I won’t be going there (not that I planned to anyway). Some of these schools need to grow a spine. If one woman can stand up to them, why can’t these schools?

  2. I hate the RIAA as much as anyone, but, um, downloading music from peer-to-peer websites is illegal. The school is liable if students use their networks to download music and movies illegally. Period. I’m sure that U of K’s insurance company mandated this move, and it makes sense. What if students were using the U of K service to download child pornography? Would everyone be complaining about how the U of K was “bowing down” the the federal government? C’mon, folks.

    This story is not the same the story of the the private citizen that Mopar_Man links to. The U of K is an educational institution that is accountable to the people of Kansas. These private citizens who have been fighting suits have some real ground to stand on. In order for the U of K to keep itself in the clear, it must adopt exactly this policy.

    The way to fight the RIAA and their Draconian policies is not to download music illegally. It is to download music legally, showing them that their business models are broken. I’ve spent over $5,000 at the iTunes Music Store since it debuted; I’m now downloading all albums in the DRM-free format. There is not a single song on my computer (the library contains 12,000 songs and counting) that has been downloaded illegally. Not a single one.

  3. banned says:

    Wow, that is brutal. How can you police that? I mean it is far too easy do download such, what if a friend emails you a pic!? And what about the fact that downloading copyright material for educational purposes is NOT against the law!? Maybe this is the way to ban everybody, after of course first making them pay for it as they admit no refunds.

  4. Fair use is fair use. Just don’t use a P2P site, and you’ll be all set.

  5. Jesse in Japan says:

    It’s not U of K. It’s KU. As in Kansas University. U of K is Kentucky.

    As a KU alum, frankly, I think they’re more concerned about the stress on their networks from all the file sharing than they are about copyright infringement.

  6. Esquire99 says:

    They aren’t saying you’re going to get cutoff for downloading copyrighted from peer-to-peer sites. They are saying you’re going to get cutoff if you get CAUGHT downloading from p2p sites. Basically, you only get cut-off if they receive a notice from the RIAA, etc. with your IP address on it. It’s not like they are going to try and track down everyone who is using it, just the people they get notices for.

  7. doormat says:

    @loquaciousmusic:
    “The school is liable if students use their networks to download music and movies illegally.”

    Bullshit.

    In the same way your ISP isnt legally on the hook when someone on a cablemodem or DSL line downloads illegal material, KU isnt responsible if someone on the resnet does it. Its called common carrier status. As long as they respond to take down notices in a timely manner, they escape liability under the law. The individual behind the actions is still legally responsible.

  8. tadowguy says:

    Kansas still has universities? What could they possibly teach?

  9. LeRainDrop says:

    If your ResNet internet access is cutoff, doesn’t that mean that your roommate gets screwed, too?

  10. Kezzerxir says:

    As a current student of KU and a past resident of the dorms, I think this is getting blow way out of proportion. I read this in the local paper a few days ago and since I’ve seen it spread across the internet. This isn’t anything new, many ISP will boot you or suspend if you get ‘caught’ downloading copyrighted material. Just as JESSE IN JAPAN said it really is about removing stress off the network. There are 4 dorms holding about 700+ kids and 1 dorm holding over 1000. Imagine the amount of network traffic this generates considering the people who are using the network. The only people that got caught were the ones who were leaving P2P programs on to share files or seeding unencrypted torrents.


    Rock Chalk Jay hawk!

  11. Kezzerxir says:

    @LeRainDrop: No, each persons buys a access pass, which essentially just OKs your mac address to access the network. If you did get banned you could just sign up for this new Lawrence FreeNet service we have. Which is city wide WiFi. You could also just put a router on your roommate’s line, tell the router to clone his/hers mac address, and share the net.

  12. Christovir says:

    @LeRainDrop: I think they would block the student’s username on the ResNet network, so that any room mates could still get access with their own login.

    Like so many rules, it is fuzzily defined, and one that everyone technically breaks (the KU rule – if interpreted literally – also bans fair use.) Having these rules that everyone breaks makes it easy for the administration to nail who they want while letting others slide by.

  13. SaraAB87 says:

    I worked in a computer lab on a ResNet network and there WERE calls to my supervisor/network admin from the RIAA or music artists publishers etc. about illegal music downloads that happened on the network. Um I didn’t see anything about accessing a P2P network, the only thing it says is if you violate the digital millenium copyright act you are suspended from the network. It is basically saying if you violate a law already in place you lose your network privilages. I would expect more universities to follow suit.

  14. SBR249 says:

    I think the first strike rule is stupid and completely irrational. It’s like college campuses saying immediate expulsion if they catch you engaged in underage drinking on campus.

    RIAA take down notices do not prove that you committed a crime, they are only making a complaint that they think you did it. And RIAA has been known to be wrong before (*GASP*). It is mindboggling to me that a university would act so harshly in this matter.

  15. gabi says:

    University of Chicago does the same thing. They just block the offending student’s username, so the roommate isn’t affected (except by the offending student’s pleas for “just a quick second to check facebook”).

    Whether it’s on a P2P network or not doesn’t really matter either. People getting things from yousendit or megaupload get kicked off as well.

  16. whydidnt says:

    Wow, a liberal university forgetting that we are innocent until proven guilty. Imagine that. Thomas Jefferson is turning over in his grave. The fact that the RIAA/MPAA accuse you of downloading illegal content is not prove that you have. KU and every other university should simply tell the accusers to come back with either a confession or a court verdict validating their accusation before taking action.

    We’ve seen the RIAA be wrong on many of these previously, why do the universities think it makes more sense to serve a for-profit industries needs more than it does it’s own student members?

  17. ph34rhk says:

    I attend KU and stayed in the dorms last year. I was notified three separate times for bittorrent activities, but nothing that a little e-mail didn’t fix. I’m glad I’m not staying in the dorms again this year =]. It use to be 4 or 5 offenses before any serious action took place… guess things can change in just a summer.

  18. ph34rhk says:

    @LeRainDrop: Your computer is just registered by its mac address in the resnet database. It’s pretty easy to spoof someone else’s mac address and get internet access again, that’s what I did to get a router in my room even though they were not approved.

  19. royal72 says:

    where are the rebels?! you’d think students would get together and have a “download illegal shit month” in protest.

    “but then they’re going to expell everyone and i can’t afford to…”

    no, they can’t afford it. if they expell everyone from school or even half, they won’t make money and that kids, is what this is all about in the first place.

  20. RyanXP says:

    You think tuition is what gets the school all their money? What does a school care about losing a couple thousand applicants even, when a) there are so many people applying to get in (at least at the elite / big state schools,) and b) they’re consistently courting donations in the 7-8 figure range, all year long?

    Besides, it should be noted that this change is being made at a time when there aren’t many students on campus, reducing the chance of protest; freshmen will come in thinking that this is just the way it is, and the establishment only has to hold out a few years until all of the holdouts are graduated and gone.

  21. hoo_foot says:

    And this is why you live off campus during college. Dorms are horribly overpriced and restrictive.

  22. G-Dog says:

    I hate to say it, but I always operated under the the idea of “if you’re stupid enough to get caught…”

  23. MorganLighter says:

    There are approx. 29,000+ students enrolled at UKansas vs. 345 incidents which equates to 0.12% of the students that may have violated the rules. My god, it’s an epidemic! What kind of gutless wonders are running this institution of insanity? Guilty until proven innocent? Jawhol, mein herr.

  24. EtherealStrife says:

    As academics they should be crying out about this attack on Fair Use.

    Cory Doctorow (craphound boingboing) recently gave a lecture on net neutrality and copyright law. Worth listening to or at least skimming (audio link)

    @hoo_foot: Yup.

  25. @doormat: My assumption is that the students at U of K sign an acceptable use policy when they sign onto the network. They download illegally, they violate their policy. The university has every right to require their students to abide by the policy that the university — and their insurers — have put into place.

  26. Craig says:

    Anyone who cries “fair use” any time this kind of thing comes up needs to do their research…fair use is extremely limited and does NOT cover filesharing in any way, shape, or form. If you’re going to steal, steal…but stop bitching about the consequences.

  27. silenuswise says:

    @loquaciousmusic: “I’ve spent over $5,000 at the iTunes Music Store since it debuted.

    Wow, you’ve been had. The last time I paid for music was in 1999. That marked the end of my contribution to a dead paradigm. Since then, all the music I obtain is from legal free downloads online, from talented friends and strangers who love to create and share. They make money through live performances and other merchandise, but they attract listeners through making their music available for free. Yup, free. Like air. Welcome to the 21st century. And, uh, have fun donating your next five grand to iTunes. Ouch.

  28. EtherealStrife says:

    @Craig: I have. Perhaps YOU need to do the research. Fair Use is extremely broad for those in the academic community, and even if something doesn’t fall under Fair Use it isn’t automatically illegal (there are other qualifications that it could fall under that would make it legitimate).

    As far as Uni of Kansas:
    File sharing is not limited to copyrighted material. Who wants to bet they’ll be banning p2p software next? The University of Kansas is abandoning its students, instead of selectively banning those who DO violate copyright laws. If the MAFIAA tells them it’s contraband, the student’s rights go out the door. If the network administrators raise a red flag, same.
    ALL copyrighted material is subject to fair use. Of the material that is copyrighted and being shared over the school network, I doubt the University of Kansas is going to take the time to determine whether it was used for a class project, parody, critique, etc. The truth is they can’t know. One of the great things about college is the freedom of research. Well, I guess not at this backward school.

  29. @Craig: Actually, I beg to differ as in the most extreme of cases, say if you were using for legitimate purposes and possibly sent the copyright holder some form of notice, or if you were downloading something which FOX holds the rights to, then yes, Fair Usage does apply…

    (Link contained above)

  30. JustAGuy2 says:

    @MorganLighter:

    Math skills are clearly not a part of the curriculum at whatever university you attended. 345/29000=1.2%, not 0.12%, but what’s an order of magnitude error among friends, huh?

  31. elf6c says:

    Double secret reason. The uber downloaders torrenting shows and movies and warez absolutely crush the bandwidth (with HD, it’s even worse!). Bandwidth is expensive, especially when you tap out the current infrastructure and are looking at $$ to upgrade it.

  32. tvh2k says:

    Sucks to be that guy down the hall with an open access point!

  33. MeOhMy says:

    As a few other knowledgeable folks have stated: This is simply to discourage a parasitic practice that really saps the available bandwidth. The IT people don’t really care about copyright as long as no one is breathing down their necks about it. In fact the IT people may well be pissed off that THEIR P2P downloads are too slow because the residential subnet is killing the bandwidth!

  34. jayhawk03 says:

    Jesse,

    You must have been from out of state. It’s KU but it is the University of Kansas. I never lived in the “official” dorms but I did get busted twice by Sunflower ( the local cable company) once was for downloading illegal stuff the other was for using too much bandwith. (through mIRC)My suggestion for the students is to use a program called Wipeer. All you need is a wireless card. You don’t have to be connected to a wireless network either. It is also pretty fast.

  35. banned says:

    @JustAGuy2:
    Where did you take math classes?

  36. banned says:

    All the students need to do, and I’m sure alot know how, is use encrypted p2p sites(ie utorrent.com). Since I started using it, I have yet to receive warning letters.

  37. JustAGuy2 says:

    @rocnrule:

    Why does it matter? 345 incidents divided by 29000 students = 0.0119 = 1.2% not 0.12%

  38. lestat730 says:

    I realize downloading copyrighted material is illegal, but is it really constitutional for the RIAA and MPAA to aggressively find, sue, and then destroy people all terminator style?

    At this point they are probably making more money suing poor college students then from their actual business. I’m really getting tired of reading about all their attacks. Why does it seem like they go after collage students will live on campus more then Mr Average Joe who finished college a few years ago and now downloads things from home.

  39. banned says:

    @JustAGuy2:
    I’m an idiot, I admit it!

  40. j-o-h-n says:

    @elf6c: Prospective students should check out the bandwidth available at their school choices if that is of interest to them.

    If you are considering KU may I suggest one of these midwest schools who have choosen to invest in big time bandwidth (upto 400 Gbs):
    [www.it.iastate.edu]

  41. Trick says:

    @mopar_man:

    It’s apparent that U of K will bow down to the RIAA/MPAA so I won’t be going there (not that I planned to anyway). Some of these schools need to grow a spine. If one woman can stand up to them, why can’t these schools?

    One woman can stand up because he had a valid defense and didn’t cave in. Here on my campus, 99% of the student we catch are fully aware that they are doing something illegal. Our college is not a safe haven for idiot kids to use our networks for whatever they want.

    The agreement we have with CENIC, who provides are access requires our college to be pro-active in combating illegal P2P programs… We are no where as strict as KU though.

    I would say you should stick to Wal*Mart bashing but you are not much better at that either.

  42. @silenuswise: The last time I paid for music was in 1999. That marked the end of my contribution to a dead paradigm.

    A dead paradigm? You mean, paying artists for the material they create? Yeah, that’s really dead.

    I’m a musician who chooses to give away my music for free. Download as much as you want; it’s all the same price. Some musicians, however, make a living making music. We should support them — even if they’re being distributed by Nasty Record Companies.

    I’m glad that you support your friends by listening to their music, going to their concerts, and buying their t-shirts. I do that, too. But the simple fact is that I prefer my music well produced, well mixed, and well thought out. I’m not bashing indie musicians — I am one myself — but I haven’t yet found an indie act who sounds like XTC, The Beach Boys, or Elvis Costello and who sells his (or her) music for $0.00.

    Until I find that act — or 100 of those acts, really — I’m going to keep buying my music from legitimate, reputable online and high street stores.

  43. MeOhMy says:

    @loquaciousmusic:

    A dead paradigm? You mean, paying artists for the material they create?

    No, I’m pretty sure he means paying $16.00 for a CD in which $15.95 goes to cover paying record label execs, jobbers, middle-men, production costs, advertising fees, etc, while the artist gets the remaining nickel. Before taxes.

  44. virtaaj says:

    What is someone’s account is hacked?
    Would that be an excuse? :)

  45. silenuswise says:

    @loquaciousmusic: Yup, a dead paradigm: the future will not include being paid for “material”. Sorry. If you open your eyes and look back across the history of music, you’d see that the commodification of music is a blip on the horizon. This institution called “the record industry” was a historical anomaly: before this, artists were never able to sell the “material” they created–you’re talking about soundwaves, not reified objects. Guess what? Music still thrived. Same goes for oral poetry: this may come as a shock to you, but before the printing industry, poets weren’t compensated for the “material” they created. Of course, it was equally absurd to consider works as simply created by a single artist, but that’s a different story.

    Here’s the cold hard truth: musicians will increasingly, and ultimately, be remunerated through performances and music-related content–but not the music as object. Will the production of music then be abandoned? Of course not. The human race will always create art, because that’s what the human race does–always has, and always will. But it is a thing of the air, information, and we already can hear it whenever we want, record it on our mini-audio-recorders (smaller and more powerful everyday), or “sound-capturers”, or maybe even eventually a little micro-chip attached to our ears… (you get the picture).

    But again, you are certainly free to continue paying the completely arbitrary sum of a dollar per song to Apple, Inc., and donate another $5,000 out of the goodness of your heart. I find it quaint and amusing, like watching a spider build a web under a drainpipe.

  46. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @royal72: Colleges are a total scam its all about the money, not actually educating people.

  47. @silenuswise: Here’s the cold hard truth: musicians will increasingly, and ultimately, be remunerated through performances and music-related content–but not the music as object.

    I agree that, in a perfect world, this would be true. Prince’s idea — to give away copies of his new album free of charge — is a case in point. Unfortunately, he’s just put Warners’ ability to sell any of his albums in high street shops worldwide in serious jeopardy.

    I don’t see this country moving further away from charging for content. Those same people who get the majority of our money from a CD or DVD purchase will not give up control so easily. Universal, the largest distributor of music in the world, recently interrupted its deal with iTunes. Why? Because they want to be able to charge more than 99¢ a song. (In fact, they already are: the DRM-free songs available on iTunes are $1.29.)

    Your argument would be a great deal convincing if it wasn’t so fucking condescending. Over 2 billion songs have been sold on iTunes since its inception. (That figure comes from January; I’m sure there have been more since then.) Obviously, this service is filling a need. I’ll be the first to say that I hate DRM and I have since its inception. But, at this point, I don’t know of a better, equally legal way. (I’m also a member of eMusic.) I’m sorry: I just can’t bring myself to download music from P2P websites and to come to the conclusion that music, really, should be free. A lot of things should be free. But they aren’t.

    (As a post script, independent artists who sell their songs on iTunes make about 75¢ per song. This is much better than the 5 or 6¢ per album they get from traditional CD sales.)