On Monday, Ohio State Univeristy campus police raided four students’ rooms and confiscated their computers.
Apparently, the students were running a Direct Connect “hub,” which, as far as I can tell, is similar to running an OpenNap server – not too sure of the details regarding file indexing, etc., but it seems like there is some centralization. It seems that it was an intra-university service, like those involved in the recent RIAA v. Students lawsuit. (That CNet article says that one of the sued students was using DC, but this primer states otherwise. Also, if you have technical details on DC, please send them to me.)
Note that this wasn’t even the RIAA’s doing. Sure, they’re going after colleges in general; but, OSU decided on its own to raid these rooms. I wonder if the students were warned in advance or were given any sort of procedural rights. From the article, it seems like the raid came out of nowhere and was based solely on the amount of files being trafficked across the network.
And, to boot: OSU’s going to limit everyone’s bandwidth starting next year. I’ve got pretty mixed feelings about this measure. Obviously, it is a threat to academic freedom and free speech, limiting how people are allowed to use their Net connections. Kowtowing to MPAA/RIAA demands now could lead to even greater restrictions in the future. At the same time, the immense strain on the network caused by P2P hinders other people’s use of the system. And, for the most part, the large downloads are copyrighted files.
I wish that, rather than taking these defensive measures, universities would begin to play an active role in trying to find a solution that satisfies all involved parties – universities, consumers, copyright holders, tech companies, et al. In the short run, universities will have to expend far more energy in the copyfight. But, in the long run, it’s the best route to make sure everyone’s interests are satisfied.