University Bans BitTorrent to Stop Flood of Infringement Notices

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A university in Canada has taken sweeping action in an effort to stem the tide of piracy notices. The University of Calgary says that after banning BitTorrent usage on several networks, infringement notices immediately dropped by 90%. People wanting access to the protocol will now need to apply for an exemption.

servers-noFollowing changes to Canada’s copyright law in early 2015, ISPs are now required to forward copyright infringement notices to their customers. Copyright owners and anti-piracy outfits have taken full advantage, with tens of thousands of users becoming targets for warnings and even demands for cash.

With opportunities for generating revenue piling up, the volume of notices has continued to increase, causing headaches for users and ISPs alike. 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 WiFi 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.”

Despite the ban, if people at the university simply must use BitTorrent as part of their academic activities they can apply for an exemption. Any use must be permitted under copyright law for the application to be successful.

Moving forward, the university may not stop at only blocking BitTorrent. Speaking with TorrentFreak, The Gauntlet news editor Scott Strasser shared information which indicates that if there are problems with other file-sharing tools, they too could be subjected to a block.

The university’s BitTorrent ban is the latest fallout from Canada’s notice-and-notice regime. Earlier this month, Christine McMillan from Ontario made the headlines as the more recent victim of copyright trolls. They accused the 86-year-old of illegally downloading a zombie game and warned that a $5,000 fine could follow.

McMillan has refused to pay the fine.

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