Solution to illegal file-sharing?

Katharine Enoch

A campus-wide letter was sent out yet again discouraging LU students from sharing files in what seems to be the monthly P2P threat letter from the administration. While the reasons for their concern are understandable, are there steps the administration could be taking, besides the threat of a fed showing up on your doorstep one day that might help encourage students away from illegal file-sharing?Yale University, Duke, Wake Forest Universities, and the University of Colorado at Boulder have taken a different approach. They have signed a contract with the company Cflix that helps professors and students exchange course material online. The program will also allow students to download popular movies and television programs legally, but for a fee of $1.95-$3.95.

During the spring semester at Yale, more than 20 courses will distribute film clips as well as other material through Cflix from which students can download locally-stored film clips. This service is costing the Universities money, but at the same time, persuading students to pursue legal forms of file-sharing.

With Cflix, students can bypass the hastle of viewing sessions and actually attaining videos on reserve, making the process of viewing class material painless for both the teachers as well as the students.

By February, Cflix will introduce a selection of Hollywood movies and in March a selection of music files as well, all of which can be downloaded legally for a fee.

Yale University officials hope that this service will dissuade students from downloading files from illegal sources such as KaZaA and Grokster, through which piloted material can be obtained.

Yale’s director of academic media and technology said that Cflix might also help reduce incoming traffic on the university’s computer network because the company has placed servers on campus that store versions of frequently downloaded movies.

Students have expressed that Cflix offers for a fee what students can choose to continue to download for free off the Internet.

But even if the project fails to curtail music or movie piracy, its potential impact to the academic world is invaluable. President of Pennsylvania State University Graham B. Spanier believes, “Peer-to-peer file sharing technology is a wonderful product for higher education. I think we are going to see more and more energy being turned to the legitimate uses of the technology for teaching and research.”

Quotes courtesy of The Chronicle for Higher Education.