University Makes Students Take Copyright Quiz To Get Timed Access To P2P

from the as-if-that-will-work dept

Broadband Reports points us to a rather unique attempt by Missouri University of Science & Technology to deal with the fact that the RIAA/MPAA are upset with students at the university for using file sharing apps. It's using traffic shaping apps to block access to P2P systems... but, it will give students timed access if they first successfully complete a quiz about copyright issues. You need to get a perfect score (or no BitTorrent for you!) and you get six hours, which they hope you're now using for legal file sharing (though, they don't check). If you want more time, you need to ace the quiz again (the questions change). You can get up to 8 "passes" per month.

It's definitely different... but hardly likely to be very effective. I'd imagine that students who really want unauthorized material will find ways around the block, using VPNs or proxies or something. Also, as Broadband Reports notes in its writeup, students who do get in can download unauthorized material and then share it internally across the network using different systems. But, most importantly, this is (yet again) based on the idea that everyone is being treated as a criminal first. There may be legitimate academic reasons for using P2P systems, but the Missouri University of Science and Technology won't be participating in many, because it's put up a barrier to usage.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    eleete, May 16th, 2008 @ 7:47am

    Fair Use

    I'm sure these tests focus primarily on what is Not allowed due to copyright. Who will explain what is perfectly legal ?

    eleete

     

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  2.  
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    Steve R. (profile), May 16th, 2008 @ 7:55am

    Who determines the correct answer?

    As a follow-up to "eleete", who defines what is a "correct" answer? My interpretation of what would be "legal" would be quite different from that of the RIAA/MPAA.

    Also does the RIAA/MPAA get the "opportunity" to be involved the development of the test questions?

    It is NOT responsibility of any school to "protect" the interests of the RIAA/MPAA.

     

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  3.  
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    John F, May 16th, 2008 @ 8:26am

    Actually, I can see this particular use opening up new markets.

    Namely, the market for kids to write down all the answers and sell them, or perhaps write some sort of script or program that fills in the answers, and sell that. =D

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2008 @ 8:28am

    hmmmmmm

    Is this considered giving legal advice ?
    Did the school consult with an attorney first ?

     

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  5.  
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    Ray Trygstad, May 16th, 2008 @ 8:40am

    That's how we get Linux distributions...

    At the university where I work, Bittorrent is how we expect our students to get their Linux distributions. Guess they don't worry about that; sort of odd for a technology school. I also wonder it they block Rapidshare.

     

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  6.  
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    Zippy, May 16th, 2008 @ 8:41am

    Ridiculous...

    Considering that I primarily use BT for legal means (World of Warcraft updates, various linux distros, user-created content on Vuze), this would make me extremely pissed and I'm sure I would be like most of the campus and find away around it...

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2008 @ 8:57am

    I don't think its a bad idea. Universities are being pushed into a corner by the RIAA, ect. Perhaps this is their method of protecting themselves from litigation. While I certainly don't agree with the RIAA's tactics, I can and do sypathize with the universities desire to stay out of it legally. From a financial perspective, they don't want to go to court, and probably couldn't care less about the matter at hand, perhaps the lawyers at this university feel they can come back later and say, "no, we did due diligence in educating the students about illegal file sharing", now go away RIAA.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2008 @ 8:57am

    Very last sentence, their > there.

     

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  9.  
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    traken, May 16th, 2008 @ 8:58am

    First I've heard...

    I go to the university in question and I've never heard of this. And all my attempts to get around the restrictions have failed (this coming from a Computer Science major).

    The administration is certainly doing their best to save us from ourselves. They've even disabled attempts to connect computer-to-computer through the network.

    As for Linux distributions and such, we have a constantly updated mirror server on the network with many different distro's.

    And Rapidshare is most certainly not blocked (yet).

    One more thing, if a student gets a DMCA request sent against them, they are required to attend 20 hours of a course dealing with ethics and the such. Once completed, the RIAA/MPAA usually withdraw everything against the student. There was one exception this year, but that guy was very extreme.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2008 @ 9:13am

    Lawyer Joke

    A physician, an engineer, and an attorney were discussing who among them belonged to the oldest of the three professions represented. The physician said, "Remember, on the sixth day God took a rib from Adam and fashioned Eve, making him the first surgeon. Therefore, medicine is the oldest profession."

    The engineer replied, "But, before that, God created the heavens and earth from chaos and confusion, and thus he was the first engineer. Therefore, engineering is an older profession than medicine."

    Then, the lawyer spoke up. "Yes," he said, "But who do you think created all of the chaos and confusion?"

     

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  11.  
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    Argonel, May 16th, 2008 @ 9:20am

    So even if you answer all of the questions correctly every time you can have at most 48 hours of P2P access every month? I guess they don't expect anyone to be supply mirrors or do anything that requaires a long term connection (such as downloading an obscure linux distribution)

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2008 @ 9:31am

    Criminals first?

    "...But, most importantly, this is (yet again) based on the idea that everyone is being treated as a criminal first."

    I'm tired of hearing this "argument" - it is weak at best

    how many "tests" do you have to pass in your lifetime to gain access to things? How about a driver's license?

    Are you presumed a criminal first when applying for a driver's license, hence the reason for the test?

    Its the same thing - if you claim the school is treating students as criminals, then the same argument could be made that states treat their residents as criminals first when it comes to driving.

    The tests ensure you know what you are doing first. If you feel like a criminal because of it, then you have a guilty conscious about something and may want to seek help for it.

     

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  13.  
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    marketingGenious, May 16th, 2008 @ 9:45am

    Re: Criminals first?

    Maybe the test is not the specific feature that is treating people as criminals, but the test COMBINED with the fact that people are restricted to 48 hours of usage each month does.

    Your argument is flawed because these situations are not the same thing. When driving, not doing so correctly can lead to someones death. When using one of these p2p networks, no death or physical injuries can result.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2008 @ 9:49am

    Re: Criminals first?

    you're forgetting that the students are paying for a service, not a limited portion of the service you're paying for, by restricting it with out reason then they are being punished, and possibly without reason. So if you're being punished for no reason, is that being treated like a criminal or a law abiding citizen?

     

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  15.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), May 16th, 2008 @ 9:52am

    Re: Criminals first? AC #12

    @#12

    Your analogy is quite flawed.
    The driver's test is to make sure that you are mature enough and understand the rules of the road. You know, for example, not to speed, how to use your turn signals, when it is okay to pass, how to read road signs, etc.
    Not to mention that driving a vehicle can kill other people. You go too fast in a residential zone while you are drunk and you can easily kill somebody.

    Downloading puts nobody's health in danger, including your own. So your analogy is horribly flawed.
    Not to mention that there are tons of legitimate uses for P2P. If you need a few examples, try reading the comments before yours.
    The MAFIAA, now along with this school, are automatically assuming that if you use P2P, you are using it to infringe on other's copyrights. Because they are assuming you are not using it for anything legal, they are now automatically blocking it.
    So, as I see it, Mike's statement stands perfectly fine. It is not "weak at best" but actually a very accurate description.
    Please try again.

     

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  16.  
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    wasnt me, May 16th, 2008 @ 9:53am

    i don't know about you guys but i think this is a step is the right direction. but am assuming here that the test data is legit of course(not the way RIAA and co. view copyright law) I think its beneficial to learn about the current system after all how else will u realize that it needs to be changed if you don't really know how it works...

     

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  17.  
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    Luke, May 16th, 2008 @ 9:56am

    I'd Share

    I'd Share my connection time with those around me.

    I'd setup a box and connect to it using my creditentials to allow other friends to use my 48hrs per month as I personally didn't download enough stuff for it to ever matter.

    When I was in school they instituted download caps and if you broke the cap two days in a row you were restricted to something painful (56k connection I think or worse if you were a major repeat offender). This I can agree with because it's in frickin' huge text every year when you sign the network agreement form. And it was absolutely necessary to cap the Internet use because when I started in 2001 the campus internet connection would be impacted by a subset of users maing general net surfing miserable.

     

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  18.  
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    Coward Smacker, May 16th, 2008 @ 9:59am

    Re: Criminals first?

    To the idiot who said "how many tests do you have to pass in your lifetime to gain access to things?".

    Name me one test you have to repeatedly take for a limited use of something you are already paying for?

    Driver's test? - Nope. You take a TEST to receive a LICENSE. Once you have a license, you may drive all you want unless you show yourself incompetent, in which case your license may be suspended or you may need to re-take the test.

    Bar test? - Nope... same principle as above.

    Black belt test? - Nope.

    Astronaut training test? - Nope.

     

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  19.  
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    don the legend, May 16th, 2008 @ 10:04am

    I attend MS&T and this policy is actually quite effective in stopping p2p. They also do an extremely thorough job of killing off any campus wide internal sharing services. Now students are basically limited to sharing directly with each other, and you have to know someone who already has whatever content you are looking for. The test questions are basic, they ask about the consequences for receiving a DMCA notice, what is and is not protected by copyright(very basic, some of your choices are TV shows, movies, books, all of the above, etc.) There is usually at least one question that says you agree not to infringe copyright or you don't disagree with the acceptable use policy as well.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 16th, 2008 @ 10:31am

    Re: Criminals first?

    "Are you presumed a criminal first when applying for a driver's license"

    Yes, and everything else too.
    In the eyes of a cop, everyone is a criminal.
    I suppose it is due to their having to deal with that element day after day, it can make one pessimistic.

     

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  21.  
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    Overcast, May 16th, 2008 @ 11:40am

    Chances are... the honest kids won't cheat; nor are they the ones who would get copyrighted info off of P2P anyway.

    The other ones will cheat and still download whatever they want.

    lol

    Ummm, yeah - that should work good!

     

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  22.  
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    Melvillain, May 16th, 2008 @ 11:45am

    Civil disobedience

    I'll give you a "legitimate academic reason for using P2P systems". Civil disobedience.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2008 @ 2:24pm

    Curbing RIAA Requests...

    A little on how it works and how RIAA requests are being prevented: http://netequalizer.wordpress.com/2008/05/17/curbing-riaa-requests-on-your-student-network/

     

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  24.  
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    Xanthir, FCD, May 30th, 2008 @ 10:31am

    Re: Criminals first?

    Are you presumed a criminal first when applying for a driver's license, hence the reason for the test?

    No, you're presumed incompetent with a deadly weapon. You have to show that you *do* know how to use a vehicle without killing people.

    Does drunk downloading kill people?

     

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  25.  
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    Nishantha, Jul 17th, 2008 @ 10:21am

    I do not have such an experience yet but I think, this is better. There are some advantages and disadvantages too. Some time we will have to find another efficient way in the future.
    .............
    Nishantha
    Addiction Recovery Missouri

     

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