This Week in LIS - 16 May 2008

Weekly news and updates from Luther College Information Technology Services. To receive email updates, please sign up here.

Upcoming Dates

  • May 21, 22 (Wednesday, Thursday): Training: Windows Vista
  • More information on upcoming training opportunities:

Headline of the Week: Copyright and File Sharing

If you’ve followed some of the links included in TWILIS over the last several weeks regarding copyright, you’ll have read that college campuses nationwide have been hit hard by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in recent weeks with “cease and desist” notices regarding alleged illegal file sharing activities. Other media entities send their own versions, including Home Box Office (HBO), CBS, and Warner Brothers (we’ve heard from them all). In the 2006-07 academic year, we received one complaint. So far to date in the 2007-08 academic year, we have received 28, with all but five of those occurring in the last five months.

After receiving a complaint, we kick off a labor-intensive process to determine the Luther user attached to the hardware that was involved in the sharing activity. That user receives a message from LIS and is required to respond in a given period of time acknowledging that they are not sharing files illegally. If they do not respond, their access to our network is suspended. Provided they respond and indicate that they are fully in compliant with our policies, they can continue to use our network resources. If we received a second complaint against them, they are automatically quarantined from our network and denied access to use network resources. Quarantine is where two of our students ended the academic year after we received multiple complaints against them.

There are a number of issues that LIS and our students need to consider when it comes to file sharing activity:

  • All users of Luther’s network resources are legally responsible for their own actions. Luther as an institution cannot provide legal protection for online activities, and we will cooperate with any lawful legal action directed at users of our network.
  • Luther does not currently have any active processes to monitor the legality of traffic on our network. Unfortunately pending legislation in Congress may require colleges and universities to both actively monitor traffic for infringing content as well as provide legal methods of accessing media. Luther will only implement traffic monitoring by specific legal requirement. We believe users should be responsible for their actions and that it is not Luther’s responsibility to police compliance.
  • Luther does not block any protocols on our network outright, though we do shape and control bandwidth to provide priority to certain types of traffic to certain parts of campus at different times of day. There are legal and legitimate reasons to use peer-to-peer file sharing protocols, and we don’t believe it right to block certain types of traffic because they might be used illegally.
  • People (and computers) are watching what you do online. If you’re file sharing, you run a good risk of being found by organizations such as the RIAA. If we are notified of fraudulent acts committed on our network, we can (and will) track who was responsible for the activity and hold them accountable for that activity.
  • Students that install wireless access points under their name are responsible for all activity that occurs on that access point. This was an issue for a number of students this year. They might not have been sharing files themselves, but others connected to their wireless access points were. In these cases, we have and will continue to pursue punitive measures against the owner and manager of the wireless access point.

As part of our summer upgrades to our Internet connectivity, we will be deploying a new addressing scheme for our network that will make tracking and identifying specific users and their traffic much easier. We will also be revisiting our policies this summer and working to be more active in communicating rights and responsibilities for network use to our students. At the end of the day, it is clear that the legal landscape of campus networks is changing and that we must continue to evolve our procedures and processes for managing network access and complaints regarding network activity. It’s also clear that sharing media via the Internet which one does not have legal right to distribute is illegal. So please don’t do it.

LIS Blog Highlights from the Week

The following articles are sampled from those available on the LIS Blog:

LIS Website Changes

  • Node numbers be gone! – for the LIS Blog individual posts are now automatically assigned a friendlier URL that includes the date of publication and the title of the post. Node numbers are no longer displayed.
  • Security enhancements – next week we’ll be deploying some behind-the-scenes changes to our security structure and permissions system on the site to allow for better data security and flexibility in the future. If you find you are unable to access or do something you think you should, let Chris know.
  • Work continues with Innovative to configure Research Pro and Encore. A new Encore logo has been sent to them and should appear on the server shortly. Work is actively underway on the new academic portal that will serve as the library home page.

Notes from LIS Council

Council did not meet this week.

NITLE Opportunities

As a member of NITLE (National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education), Luther has the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of developmental and training programs intended for faculty, librarians, and information technologists. Events listed at the link below are currently open for registration by Luther participants. LIS Staff who are interested in participating in an event should speak with Christopher Barth. Faculty who are interested in participating should speak with Lori Stanley. Participation is contingent upon available funding and program acceptance.

Complete List of NITLE Opportunities

Notable Internet Resource of the Week:

If the alarm clock just isn’t cutting it for you these days and you’d like to have your own personal wake-up call at home, there’s a web-based service just for you at The system (in beta) is pretty simple and straightforward … enter a date, time, and phone number, and it will call the number at that time. You can include an optional message to be included in the call if you wish as well. Beta testers have access to additional features such as voice reminders, snooze features, and recurring calls. The site touts the service as a great way to remember to take your medications, remind the kids to do their chores, or to escape from a boring date or meeting (meetings are boring?). is a free service, works with any U.S. or Canadian telephone number, and is available on the web at

Around the Web

Here are a few links to interesting developments over the past week:

  • Innovation
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