The University of NSW has taken the law into its own hands when it comes to piracy and is fining students identified as using uni Wi-Fi to pilfer infringing content up to $1000.
It’s unsurprising that the University of NSW is doing this as its own systems will the ones identified by content owners like Dallas Buyers Club, who will presumably then come after the University with demands for payment, as it is trying to do with iiNet’s customers.
And who can blame a university for not wanting to get its own set of fines and letters of demand?
Fairfax Media has reported this and says that not only will those caught be disconnected from the uni Wi-Fi network for up to a semester, the money won’t actually go to copyright owners but will be used to upgrade ‘campus facilities’.
Uni students are often cash-poor, so the fine will certainly hurt infringing students that fall into that category, especially those who work jobs to supplement their incomes while studying.
There’s also the issue of students using torrent programs that can be accidentally left on and can start downloading and sharing content as soon as a connection is re-established.
You’d imagine the news of these fines has now spread like wildfire amongst student populations.
After all, students are probably the most dynamic of social networks there is in the modern world today, far more dynamic that when ‘The Facebook’ was originally conceived last decade.
The fines will potentially encourage students to simply pirate content from computers left strictly at home, while also encouraging students to go right ahead and pirate all they want.
How? Through the protection of SSL connections to Usenet providers and/or through VPNs that allow access to pirate content sites, and while many VPNs explicitly block access to pirate sites, there are also many that do not.
If the uni requires students to use a uni-based VPN, well, that might make going through a second VPN too difficult, not possible or too slow, but the total yearly cost of a VPN is a lot less than $1000.
If student who do this and have large amounts of non-identifiable traffic going over their connections, they may well be asked ‘why is it so’, but presumably they could just say they are downloading Linux distributions or, well, whatever.
If they continue sucking large amounts of data over their connections, who knows, they might find their accounts rate limited or something else, but that then becomes a different problem.
Of course, as students are advised by universities, piracy is not condoned whatsoever, and we certainly and absolutely do not condone it either.
Buy your content or stream it legally from legal streaming services, and then you won’t have a problem - aside from the problem of not being able to watch the latest content when you want to, which just means you’ll have to wait until it becomes legally available - or watch it on TV, subscription TV or in the theatres.
Fairfax Media’s story has more detail on the policies of other universities and the thoughts of companies such as Village Roadshow.