[internetworkers] p2p fighter
thomas at tbeckett.com
Sat Aug 21 08:57:48 EDT 2004
Don Rua wrote:
> Since Internetworkers includes those ready to defend the individual, the
> masses, and networks, I'd be interested in your thoughts on ICARUS.
Since the University of Florida is a state institution, its activities
are subject to the First Amendment and the rest of the Bill of Rights.
The U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that file-sharing software does not
/per se/ violate copyright law (along the same lines that your VCR does
not). From the article it appears that ICARUS detects (and
automatically punishes) use of specific software. The University
follows up with formal punishment.
The University is stifling students' communication and expression with
this type of software, which invokes the First Amendment. File-sharing
can be used for legitimate purposes. Ask any company that uses Lotus
Notes or other groupware. In a University setting especially,
file-sharing software can be used to facilitate students' work on team
projects and research and other legitimate activities.
As we all know, the First Amendment does not grant absolute rights (you
can't yell "theatre!" in a crowded fire, for instance). The courts have
allowed state actors to impose reasonable time, place and manner
restrictions on expression and communication, as long as those
restrictions are narrowly tailored to impose the least possible
constraint in order to advance a legitimate public concern. (I'll set
aside for now the question of whether file-sharing is a public concern
or simply a matter affecting a very small number of large corporations.)
Is ICARUS designed to specifically detect the transmission of
copyrighted material? Or does it impose a blanket ban on communication
through p2p software? If the latter, then the University is definitely
violating the First Amendment.
An easy work-around for the students is to use "darknet" p2p software
such as WASTE (referenced in my initial kneejerk response to Don's
question). WASTE in particular seems to be designed to compromise these
competing concerns. It protects privacy through encrypted messaging,
yet there is an internal limit of 25 nodes on any WASTE network. The
latter limits its value for pooling collections of illegally-ripped MP3s.
That's my two bits worth. (It used to be two cents, but what with
overhead and the rising energy costs, I had to change my rates.) (It's
what you call an inflated opinion.)
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