Ten ways to combat illegal file sharing

“In 2002 our goals were to eliminate violations, reduce the number of illegal P2P attempts, reclaim our ResNet bandwidth, reclaim IT staff time, and improve student awareness,” said Jason Gerdes, ResNet specialist for CWU.

Gerdes explained that through proactive staff training and educating students about the effects of illegal file sharing, as well as by implementing Audible Magic’s CopySense—a network-based solution that identifies and blocks copyrighted files while allowing other legitimate P2P sharing—and Packeteer PacketShaper, the university was optimistic about cutting back on illegal file sharing.

“We also developed a registration quiz for students,” said Gerdes. “Basically, every time a student connects to ResNet for the first time, they must take a quiz about our campus acceptable-use policy. The questions alternate from person to person to allow for no cheating, the student has to answer eight or more questions correctly, and they only have to take the quiz once. If the student doesn’t get eight or more correct, they just have to take the quiz over again. Any missed questions, regardless of if they pass or not, will provide the correct answers.”

CWU also implemented a “three-strike” policy for students, with each infraction resulting in the following sanctions:

  1. Access to ResNet is disabled for one week.
  2. Access is disabled for two weeks and a letter is sent home to parents.
  3. Access is disabled indefinitely, and a complete judicial review will be completed through student affairs.

“Now our DMCA notices have been virtually eliminated, and we have significantly reduced the number of illegal P2P attempts. We’ve also reclaimed our ResNet bandwidth over time—and students appreciate the speed as well,” said Gerdes.

Gerdes said institutions looking to model this approach should remember that for their compliance plan to be successful, the administration must be willing to support the IT department’s solutions. He also mentioned that student buy-in was crucial as well.

Meris Stansbury

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