“If we want to, we can know everything you do on [EMU’s] network, but that’s not how we operate.”
Jack Rutt, EMU’s Director of Informational Systems (IS), would like to be clear; IS has the technological capability to be “incredibly intrusive,” but “will only use and has only used [this ability] when there has been a concern.”
While IS does not usually monitor the Internet activity of EMU students, EMU’s Technology Code of Responsibility for Students outlines a myriad of behaviors that would constitute a reason to be “incredibly intrusive.” The list includes everything from “using technological resources to threaten or harass others, even as a joke,” to “using, distributing or propagating chain letters.”
But in its own sub heading, the Code of Responsibility mentions the ubiquitous, at least in today’s Internet culture, infringement of copyright law. On a regular basis, IS receives take-down notices. Take-down notices are formal complaints sent indirectly from a copyright holder, notifying that “an IP address affiliated with your net- work” has allegedly, just for example, downloaded the entire Taylor Swift discography without the copyright holder’s consent.
According to IS’s Policy Manual, in the result of a take-down notice, IS will investigate and “determine whether the offending address was present on the network at the alleged date and time.”
Junior Bude Bude knows a bit about what happens next. “I had put off reading the Harry Potter series for the longest time, and I went to get them through Interlibrary Loan (ILL), but the wait was really long. No one would be making money off of either venture, if I got the books from ILL or downloaded them for free, so I downloaded them through. A couple of days later, when I tried to log into my computer—bam—there was a block up, saying that I had to go down to Student Life,” he said.
Bude was informed that the Recording Industry Association of America and Motion Picture Association of America, and apparently Arthur A. Levine Books, have a way of monitoring for copyright infringement, and he had been caught.
The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) was signed into law in 2008. The act, among a host of other things, required all universities and colleges, on the condition that their stu- dents receive federal aid, to “effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials” by users of its network, including “the use of one or more technology-based deterrents.”
Rutt explained that since the reauthorization of the HEOA, higher education institutions have had to “ramp up and cooperate more” with copyright holders.
EMU abides by the HEOA by us- ing a versatile bandwidth management service. The bandwidth management service works to even the spread of bandwidth across the network and to manage and restrict peer-to-peer protocols. Peer-to-peer protocols, such as highly popular BitTorrent, offer a way to illegally download a massive source of copyrighted material.
By purposefully restricting outbound bandwidth, the bandwidth management service limits peer-to-peer systems, making the EMU network “not attractive.” According to Rutt, the bandwidth management service allows the EMU network to “just be able to survive.”
Rutt would like students to know that on EMU’s network and beyond, “no matter how much you think you are anonymous, you are not.”
After Bude removed the peer-to-peer software off of his computer, IS lifted Bude’s Internet ban, but they forgot about seven certain books. “I still had all of the Harry Potter books and read them over the summer. It was one of the most fulfilling series I have ever read.”