Students create new filesharing website

Melissa Weigel

Despite the recent crackdown on those who illegally download music, movies and other files, students at the University are still actively participating in these activities. Indeed, a new website exclusively for University students allows for the sharing of files over the University network.

The website, which is operated by a team of students, makes the DC++ program that allows for the exchange of files more user-friendly. Many colleges around the country have similar programs. The program at the University is modeled after Rutgers University’s similar filesharing program.

“The RIAA comes up with new ways to track and trap people, and consequently people are always developing new programs to be stealthier,” Matt Morrissey, the manager of software support service at UNIT, said.

One student’s computer operates as the hub for the filesharing, which functions over the University network. Because the program is run on the University network, only students living on campus have access to it. According to the website, “You never leave the university network,thus the RIAA [Recording Industry Association of America] cannot ‘see’ into user’s file shares. This drastically reduces the risk of being ‘caught.’ Users outside of Villanova’s firewall cannot access your shares.” A disclaimer on the website states that the hub takes no responsibility for users’ actions.

“We want them [the students] to follow the law and be aware that they could be caught,” Morrissey said. “At the end of the day, Villanova will comply with the law. If we are subpoenaed, General Counsel will recommend that we comply and give up the user’s name.”

Any type of file can be shared over this network. Over 200 students have used it since it began early this semester. About 1.7 terabytes or about 340,000 songs are available to download; however, many shared songs are repeated.

In order to download any files, students must share a minimum of 500 megabytes (about 80 songs).

The typical download speed is much faster than many other filesharing programs; it is usually about 700 kilobytes per second, which means songs download in about three to four seconds. “The fastest speed I have ever seen is 12 megabytes per seconds, which means a movie of about 700 megabytes downloads in about 1 minute,” the student said.

“It’s a good, safe alternative to people who use other filesharing programs,” said one student who uses this website. “The collection [of files] is pretty much typical college mainstream music for the most part.”

Illegally sharing copyrighted materials over the network is a violation of both the University’s network policy and its academic policy. In order to participate in the University’s network, students must sign an agreement in which they acknowledge that they cannot inappropriately use copyrighted materials.

The University’s policy on Ethical Conduct for Use of Computing and Communication Resources states, “violation of federal, state or local laws, including copyright infringement, [violates] permissible use of technological resources.”

In March of 2004, nine University students were among 89 individuals named in a lawsuit filed by the RIAA against students at 21 universities who were illegally sharing files.