From 1 March 2012, the University of Groningen will be blocking BitTorrent data traffic for all student flats connected to the University network. This is in response to a large number of complaints that the University has received from American copyright agencies about distributing copyrighted material via its network.
BitTorrent is an application that can be used to download large files, such as films and computer games. However, it simultaneously uses the computer that is performing the download as a distribution point for uploading files – and that, according to current opinion, is illegal. As a result, the University’s Center for Information Technology (CIT) regularly receives network abuse reports from American agencies working for film companies and computer game producers.
In 2011 the University received about 400 of such reports, threatening with claims if the University as the responsible organization does not take measures against the users of the PCs from which the material is distributed.
Upon receiving such a report, the CIT always contacts the students to point out to them that – deliberately or not – they are violating the Acceptable Use Policy for University of Groningen computer systems. A few times a year, computers are disconnected from the University network after repeated warnings.
However, all this is a lot of work for the University network managers, which falls outside the scope of the CIT’s normal duties. The University has therefore decided to block the BitTorrent protocol for the student flats in question.
The University feels that the ongoing discussion between internet providers and copyright organizations is not relevant to the current situation. The connections in the student flats are part of the University network which has its own policy and responsibilities. The relevant students are free to obtain internet connections via commercial providers, and in addition there are other protocols available for exchanging material, which do not automatically upload.
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