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Piracy Canada

University Bans BitTorrent To Stop Flood of Infringement Notices (torrentfreak.com) 123

A university in Canada has taken sweeping action in an effort to stem the tide of piracy notices. Following changes to Canada's copyright law in early 2015, ISPs are now required to forward copyright infringement notices to their customers. Over the past years, copyright owners have aggressively targeted users and ISPs with volumes of notices to generate more revenue. TorrentFreak adds:The phenomenon has also been felt at the University of Calgary, which acts as a service provider to thousands of students. Inevitably, some of those students have been using their connections to obtain music and movies for free, which has led to the university receiving large numbers of notices. So, in an effort to reduce the instances of alleged infringement, the university has recently banned BitTorrent usage on several Wi-Fi networks. Speaking to student newspaper The Gauntlet, vice-president finance and services Linda Dalgetty said that the effect was felt immediately. During the first eight days of the ban, the university received 90% fewer notices than usual. "I think what we're finding is it has definitely made a difference. But we have to monitor that, because statistically, we have to go through a longer time frame than eight days," Dalgetty said.According to Dalgetty, reducing the number of infringement notices wasn't the only consideration. The volume of traffic and other threats were also on the agenda. "The more streaming we have on the campus, the more it impacts network performance and that takes away the user experience for other pursuits," she said. "The third [reason] is security. The more streaming we have, the [higher chance] of inadvertently downloading something that would create issues."
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University Bans BitTorrent To Stop Flood of Infringement Notices

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  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Friday November 11, 2016 @03:25PM (#53267129)
    The university was being put in a bad position and took the easiest steps to resolve it. Their network, they can do whatever they want with it. If you're looking for someone to blame, look to the people who allowed these stupid notice emails to go through in the first place.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Or, you can blame the people pirating the movies and music. If they weren't dicks, everyone could use BitTorrent to download all them Linux ISOs.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        All 5 of those people have many other ways to download them.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        How many Linux isos do you need to download? You download one, run the installer, then it's smallish updates from that point on. If you're maintaining a Linux box by downloading a new ISO for each update and trashing the whole filesystem with a new install, you're thinking like a Windows user, not a linux admin.

      • Or, you can blame the people pirating the movies and music. If they weren't dicks, everyone could use BitTorrent to download all them Linux ISOs.

        If they were smart they would use KODI + Exodus Add-on, and get their pirated movie / tv fix without overloading the network with Torrent traffic (I assume linear streaming is better), and eliminate the chances of copyright notices.

        Music can just be downloaded off Youtube.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The network admins should watch closely what's going to happen to their budget: Without that traffic, the network is probably underutilized. Whether that means it has to be downgraded or otherwise necessary upgrades can be postponed, the budget for operating the network isn't going to be what they expected. Yes, it's their network and they can do what they want with it, but if they think passing on copyright notifications to students is a burden, they'll be surprised how burdensome a lower budget can be.

    • by kriston ( 7886 )

      That's not really how it works. Those notices are sent not just to the edge network owner. They are also sent to that network's internet provider.

      If the university chooses to ignore the letters, eventually their upstream provider will be left with no choice but to cut the university off.

  • Fair enough (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dynamoo ( 527749 ) on Friday November 11, 2016 @03:29PM (#53267161) Homepage
    "My network. My rules."
    • Except in this case, it's a public university. So, it isn't their network. It technically belongs to all of the citizens of Canada, and the network admins may not have the legal rights to arbitrarily block certain types of traffic simply because the paperwork is inconvenient.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Actually, education is under provincial jurisdiction, not federal. So, it would be more accurate to say it technically belongs to all the citizens of the province of Alberta, Canada.

        That being said, your post is still nonsense. For example, the trans-canada highway technically belongs to all the people of Canada, but that doesn't mean that the local unicycle club can block all the lanes of the highway by setting up some sweet jumps to do unicycle tricks with.

        • This (also terrible) analogy is more analogous:

          They are banning the transport of all unicycles on the trans-Canada highway because someone is repeatedly claiming that people who use it keep stealing his unicycles.

          • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

            ...but they aren't stealing the content. They are infringing on copyright.

            Yeah. I'm that guy.

        • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
          On the other hand when a criminal uses the trans-canada highway to make a get-away in a red minivan it doesn't make sense to say that people in red minivans can never use the highway again.
      • by kuzb ( 724081 )
        Try to enforce your own policy on the network and see how much it belongs to you.
      • The citizens of Canada also implemented the copyright law at the heart of this matter, either directly or indirectly via their elected representatives. The school is only doing what the public has asked of them in this regard.

        • by dryeo ( 100693 )

          Actually we got blackmailed by the citizens of the USA. "If you want access to our market, you thieving arseholes, who are worse then all 3rd world countries, you better pass these laws" Americans are obviously in favour of those draconian copyright laws.
          Now we're likely to get hauled into court and forced to pay, sometimes as much as 3 times the cost of a DVD but usually only the cost of a DVD. Then we get the American companies threatening to haul us into court if we don't pay. As most of us are exposed t

      • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

        Except in this case, it's a public university

        You're right, it's a public university, in which case they can block ALL uses of the systems that don't have a particular academic necessity.
        In other words, it's not your private connection, so it is not for personal use in a way that impacts other students' ability to use the network. Those are the rules that my US-public university operated under, and they didn't get into any trouble with that.

        It technically belongs to all of the citizens of Canada,

        I don't know if it's the same in Canada, but this is a pretty common misconception for public universities, in th

  • Magnet links should make tracing down this kind of activity pretty difficult. Either companies are honeypotting Bittorrent emissions themselves, which would be entrapment, or theyre just observing over-the-wire for bittorrent traffic and assuming some nefarious activity.
    • I work for a company that does deep packet inspection and classification of traffic. It is easy to determine Bittorrent traffic. They aren't attempting to determine if it is nefarious, they are just blocking Bittorrent. I'm kinda surprised all Universities dont. It is a big bandwidth hog.
    • Either companies are honeypotting Bittorrent emissions themselves, which would be entrapment

      Honeypots are not entrapment. They have not forced or coerced you into doing something you weren't setting out to do anyway. I believe the concept of entrapment can only be applied to law enforcement entities, as well.

      • Either companies are honeypotting Bittorrent emissions themselves, which would be entrapment

        Honeypots are not entrapment. They have not forced or coerced you into doing something you weren't setting out to do anyway. I believe the concept of entrapment can only be applied to law enforcement entities, as well.

        Mostly true. To oversimplify it, entrapment is the idea that everyone has their price, so if you make something attractive enough even an honest person becomes tempted and may succumb. Joining a bittorrent swarm and seeing who else (by who I mean what IP addresses) is also in the swarm isn't in any way an enticement, let alone an unreasonable enticement, so isn't entrapment.

        However, entrapment is an affirmative defense, meaning the accused admits doing it but claims a mitigating factor that excuses it. This

        • There is no such thing as entrapment by non-law-enforcement individuals or organizations. Only cops. Definition of entrapment [dictionary.com]

          1. the luring by a law-enforcement agent of a person into committing a crime.
          2. an act or process of entrapping.
          3. a state of being entrapped.

          It's perfectly legal for me to do something that, if the police were to do it, would be entrapment. So no, your claim that it also applies to private entities is a fantasy, same as the democrats thinking that Clinton could win.

          • I doubt dictionary.com is a good source for international legal advice. If I was worried about whether I (as a private person) was committing entrapment I'd rather consult a lawyer familiar with my state's laws.

            I don't think it would be wise for me to offer to pay someone to perform an illegal act, anyway. Law enforcement can often do that, provided they are conducting a bona fide investigation.

            • You're free to look up other sources. I did. They all agree - entrapment only applies to law enforcement. Mind you, I already knew this, and I'm surprised that it's not common knowledge. When was the last time you saw a show where someone who wasn't a cop was accused of entrapment?

              And no, the law is the same in all states. Try again.

              It's entrapment when law enforcement acting without the target knowing they are law enforcement induces the target to do an illegal act that they would not otherwise have done

              • I was hesitant about accepting an on-line dictionary for legal advice, but if you've checked other sources I'll accept that.

                Around here, presenting an opportunity to commit a crime is not considered entrapment. It's okay for an undercover police officer to hang around a suspected drug dealer in the hope of being offered a deal, because someone who is not a drug dealer will not offer the deal. It's entrapment if the officer asks to buy drugs, because that's an inducement to commit a crime.

    • Either companies are honeypotting Bittorrent emissions themselves, which would be entrapment

      Citation please?

      • Either companies are honeypotting Bittorrent emissions themselves, which would be entrapment

        Citation please?

        They can't provide one. The legal definition of entrapment is a member of law enforcement inciting someone to commit an illegal act. If I make it known that I leave my door unlocked, knowing that someone is going to go in and steal something, and I have a hidden camera there, I haven't entrapped them, even though my actions have certainly encouraged them to commit a crime.

        • In your example, you haven't incited an illegal act, and if the police did it it wouldn't be entrapment.

          What you would have done is more parallel to a police sting operation, in which they don't incite crime but make it attractive for a criminal to commit a crime they would already have done somewhere they can be arrested.

          If I were a police officer and walked up to someone and offered them money for drugs, that's entrapment. If I say I want drugs and the guy offers to sell them, that's a sting, becaus

          • If the police did, it most certainly would be entrapment. Entrapment is when an agent of the law does anything that would encourage the target to do something that, without the act, the target would not have committed the crime. Making a place look like it would be easy to rip off is entrapment when done by cops, because the target would argue that they never would have done the act without being baited. And if I've done it, I most certainly have encouraged them to commit an illegal act (a crime of opportun
            • That's not how the courts see it around here. The police have parked cars here and there intended to be attractive to car thieves, on the principle that only a car thief would care about such things. The idea is that only a criminal would take advantage of a good opportunity to commit a crime. They can't push anyone towards taking advantage of one of these opportunities, or that would be entrapment.

    • by kriston ( 7886 )

      Magnet links protect the directory, e.g. The Pirate Bay.

      Identifying the sender and receiver is trivially easy.

      How else could a BitTorrent client connect to the sender?

    • We need a Slashdot Bot which just responds to the word "entrapment" in a post and corrects the author.

      You can honey pot legally The police can even sell you drugs and arrest you. It's not entrapment unless you can prove that they convinced you to do something that you wouldn't have done except because of their coercion. You could setup a pot stand on the street titled "weed sold here" and arrest you when you came up and tried to buy weed. The test is whether a normal law abiding citizen have been persua

  • "...the volume of VPN and Tor traffic on campus has mysteriously increased."

    It's a virtual whack-a-mole game, when will the MAFIAA finally realize this?

    • Doubtful. VPNs are another step that you would need to pay for to get anything decent, and you can't pirate through Tor.
  • by PKFC ( 580410 ) <pkfc@@@hotmail...com> on Friday November 11, 2016 @03:41PM (#53267255)

    So this is the same place that paid $20,000 to decrypt a malware attack that locked down its email and AD infrastructure... http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/university-calgary-ransomware-cyberattack-1.3620979 [www.cbc.ca]

    I doubt they've learned much about how to operate a network at this rate.

    • In some respects, U Calgary isn't even really much of a university. Its incestuous relationship with the local oil barons makes the quality and reliability of anything that comes out of there, including research and graduates, suspect.

    • by capebretonsux ( 758684 ) on Friday November 11, 2016 @05:20PM (#53267861)

      I work for the uni and you don't know how correct you are.
      In response to the malware ransom, they mandated that all employees are now banned from using gmail, yahoo, etc. for work-related stuff because 'they don't control those servers.' Then, in spectacular irony, they then migrated their email system to Office 365, which has proven to be an abysmal user experience, and emails appear to be sent through microsoft's servers anyways - which the uni doesn't control and are SO slow. (It could just be that Office 365 works fine, but that our servers are misconfigured in some way)
      This recent bit about bittorrent is idiotic as well, as anyone who wants to use the wifi has to login using their IT credentials, so they could easily find out who is downloading what and take action against the infringing individuals instead... but that would require a reasonably competent monkey in the IT dept.

      • by PKFC ( 580410 )

        My mom works for U of C too and I wanted to slap those people for their ham fisted communications and messaging about the whole ordeal. I've seen good implementations of O365 and the company I work for now is beginning their implementation too which is likely larger than the U of C by a small margin. I would have thought that other email addresses would be banned for work related purposes as a matter of principle from the get go. The saddest thing overall to me is that the malware ransom didn't come out of

  • Good luck banning encrypted traffic assholes.
    • My favorite trick for getting torrented content on hostile networks is to simply let my seedbox, on a very good network, handle the torrent download and then transfer the file to my local computer via SSH. It requires more lead time but it works great and is completely undetectable. I don't even need to use a VPN this way!

    • by kriston ( 7886 )

      No, the encryption is ineffective. It's not really encrypted that heavily and traffic shaping devices have been able to identify what these streams are for years and years already.

      • Encryption must be applied to the headers and the content. Perhaps its strength and application can be improved. Once this is done, traffic shaping devices can at best guess at what is happening - a guess that may not stand up in university court. In any case, using those devices would take extra work for the university, and until they do, they can choke on it.
        • Doesn't have to "stand up in university court." And if you take it to a real court, you'll lose. There's nothing in the law that says your rights have been infringed by placing restrictions on access to a private network.
          • In a real court, at least in the US, the burden of proof is even higher. Something that looks like torrent traffic, assuming it is fully encrypted, may not be necessarily be torrent traffic. It could very well be a research software that is being run by some university students. You'd actually have to prove that infringing material was transmitted, and that could be more difficult. Let's say I modify the torrent protocol by 10%, so now it's no longer the torrent protocol. The traffic shapers may still dete
            • This has nothing to do with 3rd party claims against people making illegal downloads, and everything about the school saying "fuck it, we don't need the hassles" and cutting off torrent access. This won't affect things like isos of Linux - most unis have servers with multiple distros on them.
      • I'd expect a VPN to use apparently unbreakable encryption. It's not that hard. If I found that a VPN services was using something lame like DES, I'd find another.

        What a traffic analysis would find is that GameboyRMH sent some sort of message to a computer outside the system, and then downloaded a file from it at some later time, and that's in the best case scenario where there's no other traffic.That's not going to tell anyone anything.

        • by kriston ( 7886 )

          It's not really the data, it's the way the data is transmitted. Multiple, single sockets connected to dozens of IP addresses scattered all over the world is a good indicator.

  • by GeekWithAKnife ( 2717871 ) on Friday November 11, 2016 @03:57PM (#53267363)

    a place where the next generation wishes to learn, gain knowledge expertise.

    What a brilliant idea, to ban BitTorrent! -Why didn't anyone else think of that?!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      They could also ban Token Ring.

      It wouldn't affect the quality of the education any differently.

      Except maybe for a few Fine Arts students studying anime.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Thank you UoC for taking back your network, and getting rid of pointless torrent traffic. Poor fucking kids. Poor, POOR fucking kids. Go outside and learn to live.
  • Someone get a dump server up and running. Twenty-odd terabytes of storage should do it, for anyone in the know to upload and download as they see fit, all safely on the university network.

  • When I was an undergrad, the university was more worried about wasting the capacity of overseas links than what you used it for. It makes more sense to share stuff within the academic network than for each user to stream their own copy of the same thing. A lot of students realized this a long time ago, but today we care more about being legit than conserving resources.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.