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University of Kansas Adopts 'One Strike' Copyright Infringement Policy 397

Posted by Zonk
from the hope-you-really-liked-that-cher-album dept.
NewmanKU writes "Eric Bangeman at Ars Technica writes that the University of Kansas has adopted a new, and very strict, copyright infringement policy for the students on the residential network. The university's ResNet website states that, 'Violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is against the law. If you are caught downloading copyrighted material, you will lose your ResNet privileges forever. No second notices, no excuses, no refunds. One violation and your ResNet internet access is gone for as long as you reside on campus.' According to a KU spokesperson, KU has received 345 notices in the past year from organizations and businesses regarding complaints about copyrighted material downloading."
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University of Kansas Adopts 'One Strike' Copyright Infringement Policy

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  • Re:Due Process (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SamP2 (1097897) on Saturday July 21, 2007 @05:05AM (#19936477)
    Tough luck pal, due process only applies in court. They'd have to follow it if they decided to sue you, throw you in jail for whatever, or something like that.

    Cutting you off the campus net is an entirely private decision, no due process required by law.

    Think of it like getting banned from a forum because the admin thinks you are a troll.
  • by iluvcapra (782887) on Saturday July 21, 2007 @05:07AM (#19936485)

    TFA mentions that Stanford and other schools charge high "Reconnection" fees after they block your MAC for sharing files. Why don't they just do something like that and make a load of money?

    "Zero-tolerance" is all about moralism, and rarely about correcting behavior, or "teaching" people anything. It'll have a good effect statistically, but the people who get their privileges pulled won't have their attitude changed, they'll just conclude the "RIAA-Nazis" blackmailed his school into screwing with his education.

    It doesn't matter how true it is, rules must give the appearance of fairness in order to be respected.

  • sounds crap (Score:3, Insightful)

    by joe 155 (937621) on Saturday July 21, 2007 @05:09AM (#19936497) Journal
    I'm not American, nor a lawyer, so I could be wrong... but as far as I know the DMCA contains many crazy rules which would be insanely easy to break - even breaking DRM to get access to a file which you have bought. Would this mean that they could get banned from the internet (which would effectively force them out of the halls they are in, because of how essential the internet is at uni) for just converting a protected WMA file so you can play it on linux? what about installing ntfs-3g? what about using an unlicenced mp3 codec? any unlincenced codec? just using linux (assuming they believe MS's claims about infringement)? Using any computer (hell, there are that many patents flying around that all computers violate; GUI ones, for example)...

    Wouldn't all/most of these innocent things violate the DMCA? wouldn't that be enough to get you royally screwed?
  • Re:Due Process (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkon (206829) on Saturday July 21, 2007 @05:14AM (#19936527)

    Think of it like getting banned from a forum because the admin thinks you are a troll.
    On a free forum to which you have paid nothing this makes sense, but I'd imagine the students pay some quite hefty fees to the university in the expectation of receiving full access to all services for their money.
  • Re:Lack of Caring (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neoform (551705) <djneoform@gmail.com> on Saturday July 21, 2007 @05:14AM (#19936529) Homepage
    Nah, students wont cancel the accounts because they need them, instead what needs to be done is someone file copyright infringement claims against *every* student, and since this rule applies to claims and convictions they will all be required to lose their accounts.. showing how stupid this sort of rule is.
  • Re:Lack of Caring (Score:1, Insightful)

    by OverlordQ (264228) on Saturday July 21, 2007 @05:28AM (#19936563) Journal
    If the students care enough, they will all cancel their accounts. When the University sees a drop in revenue, they will have to decide.

    Pulling authoritarian crap like this in a place where people are naturally rebelling against everything and anything is a good way to get egg on your face.


    You know a better solution? Don't download copywritten material.
  • by iluvcapra (782887) on Saturday July 21, 2007 @05:36AM (#19936585)

    For example, if you have tough sentences for violent robbery, it won't change the attitude of the would-be robbers, just make them more afraid

    We aren't talking about violent robbery, we're talking about copyright infringement. You can't equate a crime against intellectual property with violence. People who copy Content without paying for it are pretty far down the ladder of malfeasance, and spending a little effort to correct them might be worth it, compared to a violent felon. Most states don't deprive someone of their freedom forever after one violent offense, they, as a matter of fact, often have a three-strikes policy (excepting violence that is heinous, murderous, or pre-meditated). People who commit violent crimes often don't plan too, and thus aren't afraid of the punishment.

    Let's not get start on the whole "copyright infringement is not a crime" stuff, OK?

    I specifically tried to avoid addressing the merits of the "RIAA-Nazi blackmail" argument , but you seem to have read a conclusion into my statements that does not exist. FWIW, I doubt the school would have a zero-tolerance policy if not for the constant threat of lawsuits.

    I am curious how this policy compares with their "Academic Integrity" (ie plagiarism) policy. Those generally are "one strike," though there is extensive student and faculty review and juridical proceedings before someone is expelled. I don't see any of that here.

    Rules must be *fair* to be *respected*, but being *tough* is fine if all you care is about them being *effective*

    You can't let "effectiveness" be the only metric. We could take every male between the age of 16 and 26 and keep them in prison, and it'd be EXTREMELY effective in reducing violent crime (something like 90%). Of course, such a solution punishes people who have no mens rea, who intend no ill to anyone or thing, and when you punish people who others can see are not guilty, the law suffers.

  • Re:Oh crap... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NickFortune (613926) on Saturday July 21, 2007 @05:44AM (#19936617) Homepage Journal

    Yep. In fact, as a signatory to the Berne Convention, in the US copyright exists in every work not explicitly released into the publci domain. Which makes it a particularly stupid thing to say. I mean it is fairly obvious that they mean "no unauthorised downloading of copyright material", but if they really plan to implement a "no excuses, no appeal" policy, you'd think they'd take the 30 seconds or so it needed to phrase the thing correctly.

    Even then, it's still way OTT. Half the papers on Citeseer (for instance) are there in technical violation of the copyright of the journals where they were first published. The journals turn a blind eye, which is why the site can keep on, but I can see a lot of sudents getting banned, which considering how widely used citeseer is as an academic resource, is a but ridiculous.

    I suppose the only other way they could implement the policy as expressed is to rely on the word "caught". That way, if they don't look for downloaders, they don't find them, and selective enforcement becomes the order of the day. I suppose it might be useful if the they forsee needing a pretext to silence unruly students.

  • by Lewisham (239493) on Saturday July 21, 2007 @06:03AM (#19936705)
    When I worked for a ResNet that shall go unnamed, almost all students would admit to copyright infringement when asked in a formal setting. There was not a single case where the MPAA/RIAA fired off an email where the student was not guilty. I know it's terribly fashionable around these parts to protest that universities should be standing up for students and such, but it is one thing to be the university that won't hand over names with IP addresses, and quite another to be the one that the MPAA/RIAA decides to take to court over the issue. The legal grey area, at least in the UK, had my ResNet worried, and felt they had to be seen doing something. Whether that is true in the US is another matter, and I can't comment on it. Honestly, I don't blame Kansas for their stance, and I don't think they are doing the students a disservice. Presuming they have some way of verifying claims made against students, why shouldn't they attempt to crack down on illegal uses of their bandwidth?
  • Re:Lack of Caring (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Volante3192 (953645) on Saturday July 21, 2007 @06:14AM (#19936755)
    Ahh yes, because somewhere along the line "guilty until proven innocent" became the de facto standard.

    We get riled up because of all the kneejerk reactions that create more problems than they solve. Sure, it might superficially seem ok, but the potential for abuse is so high, it's patently absurd.
  • Re:Due Process (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Saturday July 21, 2007 @06:30AM (#19936817) Homepage
    Nearly all contracts contain wording to the effect of 'We reserve the right to make changes to this contract at any time' so yes they can make it apply retroactively.
  • by Aladrin (926209) on Saturday July 21, 2007 @06:41AM (#19936855)
    You seem to have confused downloading with uploading. Who said ANYTHING about sharing the file with others? There's plenty of ways to download without uploading.

    But that's immaterial, anyhow, as you have NO idea if the other person is doing it legally or not. I don't stop everyone I see on the street and verify that they are not an escaped criminal before I let them continue down the sidewalk, right? Even if that's not my duty, a police officer doesn't do that, either. Just because someone COULD be doing something illegal doesn't mean you should give a shit.

    So tell me again why I shouldn't use the internet to replace that $50 game CD I lost? As a perfect example, I lost my Persona disc for PSX. On EBay, that disc goes for anywhere from $50 to $100. I think I only paid $40 originally, and I don't think I should have to pay that much to replace it. The company won't replace it, as the game is out of print. I'll be damned if I'll just suck it up and accept the loss. That's one of my favorite games of all time.
  • Re:Due Process (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mbulge (1004558) on Saturday July 21, 2007 @06:49AM (#19936875)
    The University of Kansas is a public school, which means that this is not and should not be an entirely private decision. This decision goes too far, seeing as how other Kansas schools and government facilities are not bound by the same restrictions.
  • by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2NO@SPAMearthshod.co.uk> on Saturday July 21, 2007 @07:01AM (#19936903)
    Bollocks. Rule by fear always breaks down, sooner or later, because fear can be overcome. This is something that authoritarians don't seem to get. Fear of getting caught is not what demotivates the majority of people from committing crime. That's just a Tory oversimplification. If someone is really determined, they will analyse the balance of probabilities purely in terms of a favourable vs. unfavourable outcome with a cool head.

    Once you force someone into a corner, where the choice is "do something that you fear or die", they will choose to live, because they're more afraid of dying than of whatever you were going to do to them. In fact, the whole "overcoming fear" thing is how cave-men evolved into us. Oh, wait, you said Kansas .....
  • by smurfsurf (892933) on Saturday July 21, 2007 @07:32AM (#19937007)
    So *you* have to proof you did nothing wrong? What will they considered sufficient "documentation supporting your appeal"? What *can* you write? "During that time, I was surfing the web, reading news sites, I have no idea why they would accuse me of downloading X"? What use does it have anyway?

    If you say you did the claimed things, you will get your access suspended and later sued by the copyright holder.
    If you say you did not do the claimed things (if true or not), you will get your access back and later sued by the copyright holder nonetheless.

    This provision is still open for a DOS on all the students. File reports on all of them, and the whole student body has their boxes disconnected for five days. Or stack it over a period of time to create "disconnection waves" for parts of the student. Keeps them frightend about who will not be able to work from their computer this week.

    This is just stupid.
  • Re:Lack of Caring (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 21, 2007 @07:38AM (#19937033)
    >One stupid moderation of a valid point gets your moderation privelidges removed forever.

    I'd like to see this take one step further: Being stupid in general should be a cause to have one's Slashdot account revoked forever.

    So, for example: Someone that can't spell "privileges" and is too lazy to use a dictionary? Gone.

    Or, calling someone else stupid, a moron or an idiot in a sentence replete with errors, such as this: "too stupid to make a valid poitn wouldnt"? Buh-bye, Bubba.

    Hell, I figure we could weed out three-quarters of the Slashdot population in a short time, and probably very nearly all of those with UIDs over one million.

  • by LinuxIsRetarded (995083) on Saturday July 21, 2007 @08:48AM (#19937287) Homepage

    So tell me again why I shouldn't use the internet to replace that $50 game CD I lost? As a perfect example, I lost my Persona disc for PSX. On EBay, that disc goes for anywhere from $50 to $100. I think I only paid $40 originally, and I don't think I should have to pay that much to replace it. The company won't replace it, as the game is out of print. I'll be damned if I'll just suck it up and accept the loss. That's one of my favorite games of all time.
    What a socially irresponsible attitude! What would you do if your $1000 Akita puppy ran away and never returned? Would you simply steal another one? After all, no one would replace him free of charge for you. And don't complain about the analogy, either. You are arguing in favor of stealing something to replace something you lost.

    Just bite the bullet and accept that you lost your Persona disc and you can't get another one without paying for it. Then maybe next time you'll be a bit more careful with your possessions (or better yet, you'll simply realize that there are far more important things in life than material possessions).
  • Re:Due Process (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 21, 2007 @10:46AM (#19937953)

    Just because you put something in your TOS does not make it legal or enforceable.
    True, but "Don't do anything on our network that is AGAINST THE LAW or you will be banned" is just the kinda of condition that is entirely enforceable. Don't like it? Then work to get the law changed, because there is nothing wrong with a university demanding you dont break the law with their network.
  • by brassman (112558) on Saturday July 21, 2007 @10:54AM (#19938027) Homepage
    "What is it that someone will not have after you download a copy of a piece of music, that they did have before you downloaded it (the "deprive" bit) and there is no way for them to get back (the "permanent" bit)?"

    Your money.

    Okay, they didn't have your money yet, but you didn't have the music -- and you obviously want it, else you wouldn't have downloaded it.

    So "your money" is a shorthand way of saying "A legitimate expectation that you would either buy from them or do without, which you have circumvented by illicit means that disregard a lawful copyright."

    TFA is still f-cked up, though; if they're citing DMCA then 's/download/upload/' surely? Downloading is not a DMCA violation. Uploading might be.
  • Re:Due Process (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Saturday July 21, 2007 @11:12AM (#19938153) Journal
    Clearly, this is a great place to begin a multi-year commitment towards higher education.

    They clearly place the interests of their customers first and foremost.

    I'm going to send that university a letter telling them I'm not hiring any of their graduates because of their asinine behavior.
  • Re:Due Process (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Khaed (544779) on Saturday July 21, 2007 @01:29PM (#19939113)
    So you're planning on punishing the students for the University being dicks?

    Seems like you're just adding to the pile of crap the students have to put up with.
  • by CowboyCapo (1127223) on Saturday July 21, 2007 @04:58PM (#19940745)
    "An unjust law is no law at all."

    Quote care of St. Augustine.

    "An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law."

    Quote care of St. Thomas Aquinas.

    In short, I would say that KU will find either that this 'law' will be unenforceable, or that their supposed cure will be far worse than the supposed problem, causing the IT department to make the ultimate sanction available to them vis a vis ResNet on everyone who uses the web for anything whatsoever.

    It aught to make for interesting watching for anyone that is not a student at KU.
  • Re:Due Process (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 21, 2007 @06:17PM (#19941325)
    "paid for by tax payers, in the case of public schools"

    I didn't realize tuition was free.

    No seriously, I wonder why copyright infringement was singled out. If you park illegally on campus, do they remove your parking privileges forever? If you take more than your fair share in the dorm cafeteria, can you no longer eat on campus?

    Sounds just alleging copyright violations at KU carries one of the harshest penalties. I wonder if you don't properly attribute your sources in a paper if they break your fingers? Anyway, if I was on the internet at KU, I'd try to encrypt all my traffic. Some idiotic letter comes from an RIAA lawyer, and the next thing you know, you might as well leave school.
  • Re:Lack of Caring (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Saturday July 21, 2007 @07:19PM (#19941723) Homepage

    Protest all you want. Just don't download stuff to which you're not entitled. How hard is that?

    The extent to which students should be downloading pirate content on a university residential network would make for an interesting discussion. I'd love to have that discussion at some point.

    This story has nothing to do with that question though. This story is 100% about due process and appropriate penalties. Even if we assume that students should be downloading zero pirate content, the school IT department shouldn't be interfering with the primary goals of the school (education and research) with an unreasonable zero tolerance policy. That's like expelling a student for stealing a whiteboard marker.

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