RealTime IT News

P2P, Internet2: Heady Brew For College Kids

WASHINGTON -- Despite thousands of lawsuits and a U.S. Supreme Court smackdown verdict against peer-to-peer (P2P) music file-sharing networks, college students are still engaging in widespread copyright theft.

The newest trend in illegally swapping copyrighted music and films, according to a new report to Congress, is utilizing Internet2, the second-generation high-speed network serving universities and research institutes.

"P2P applications such as i2hub, which has been optimized for the incredibly fast Internet2, have enabled users to download songs in seconds and entire movies in minutes," the report by the Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities states.

In presenting the report to a House subcommittee Thursday morning, college administrators and movie industry executives told lawmakers that the closed academic-based network led many students to believe "they could engage in infringing conduct with impunity."

In addition, students are setting up file-sharing systems on schools' Local Area Networks (LANs). The administrators and Hollywood also reported an increase in the use of myTunes and ourTunes, unauthorized hacks of Apple's iTunes download service.

"These applications enable students in college dorms to illegally trade thousands of copyrighted songs stored on the user's iTunes application and further impede the successful adoption of a legitimate download service by a school community," the report states.

Hollywood, of course, is doing its best to disabuse students of such notions, filing more 500 lawsuits against i2hub file swappers and continuing its legal campaign against more conventional illegal swapping.

Colleges and universities claim they are doing their best to curb illegal behavior by their students with educational programs focusing on copyright theft and ethical behavior, limiting bandwidth to students, installing filters and other technological measures and launching legal music services at greatly reduced rates.

"Since last year's report, the number of schools with legitimate services on campus has more than tripled to nearly 70," the report states. "Of course, the level at which students use these legitimate services varies from school to school, often depending upon the accompanying means by which administrators address the piracy issue."

Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), whose district encompasses Hollywood, was unimpressed.

"To me, it seems there is a disconnect that students exhibit between intellectual knowledge and actual practice," Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) told the administrators.

At least one of Berman's constituents couldn't agree more.

"[Illegal file swapping] is well ingrained behavior before they even reach campuses," Richard Taylor, a senior vice president at the Motion Picture Association of America, told the lawmakers. "The trending is up and it will continue to rise as [networks] get faster and faster."

William Raduchel, chairman and CEO of Ruckus Networks, a legitimate download service aimed at college students and communities, added, "Two years ago, students arrived on campus and learned about [illegal downloading] within a week. Today, they arrive on campus already armed with a library."

Even the colleges and universities admitted more can be done on campus.

"Many schools have yielded to complacency in their methods of addressing piracy on campus," the report states. "Alerting students to policies and requirements serves only a limited purpose when administrators fail to remain vigilant and effectively -- and consistently -- punish violators."

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) warned the administrators more accountability on their part is coming, ordering the General Accountability Office to conduct a study of on-campus piracy complete with a scorecard for each school surveyed.

"I want the progress quantified," he said.