The home page of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was disabled on Sunday evening by the notorious hacker group Anonymous, hours after the university’s president announced an investigation into MIT’s role in a criminal case against the Internet activist Aaron H. Swartz, who committed suicide on Friday.
The attack was part of an outcry against MIT and prosecutors who were seeking to punish Mr. Swartz for what he considered cyberactivism. The 26-year-old programmer was facing up to 35 years in prison after he allegedly used a laptop hidden in an MIT closet in 2011 to make unauthorized downloads of more than four million scholarly articles from the nonprofit journal archive JSTOR.
He was accused of downloading the materials with the intention of uploading the documents to the Internet and making them freely available, according to a federal indictment. The criminal case…
The faculty union at the University of Manitoba, in Canada, sent an e-mail message to its members this month alerting them to a popular Web site where students are sharing course materials, including what the union calls professors’ “intellectual property.”
In the e-mail, the union defines intellectual property as “lectures, course notes, laboratory materials, exams, and other works created by members for their class,” which cannot be published without the author’s permission. The e-mail encourages members to warn their students that posting any of the above materials is prohibited by law.
Students can legally share their own notes from a class, but taping a professors’ lecture and posting that to a Web site is a violation of copyright law, argued James L. Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, in an article in the Winnipeg Free Press.
Students at the University of Alaska at Anchorage are bracing for an Internet slowdown. According to an Associated Press report, the university will slow Internet connections in campus dorms from 10 megabits per second to 2 megabits “to prevent students from infringing on copyrights when downloading movies, music, and videos.”
A university IT official said that complaints from the recording and entertainment industry triggered the decision. There were 878 complaints last year, the official said, and more than 95 percent of those involved illegal downloads taking place in on-campus housing. A student-education campaign didn’t control the problem, he said.
Students aren’t pleased by the slowdown. One undergraduate started a “Take the Internet Back” page on Facebook to protest the university’s decision. “I felt they were punishing us all for the actions of a few,” he told the…
The University of North Carolina has a special message for students who want to access the dorm’s Internet network: “UNC-CHAPEL HILL IS BLOCKING FILE-SHARING THROUGHOUT STUDENT HOUSING.”
That’s at the top of a Web page which pops up on laptops that have file-sharing programs, when they connect to the university’s network. Students aren’t allowed to access the Internet until they’ve uninstalled the offending software or request an exception that the university is calling a “hall pass.”
The pass is an agreement the student signs that says he or she has a file-sharing program but “any copyright violation linked to a device registered under my name will result in an automatic referral to the Dean of Students office.” They also agree to learn what does and does not violate copyright law.
Officials hope the new policy will both prevent students from getting into legal pickles and help…
For Joel Tenenbaum, years of battling the music industry have come down to a question of money. How much will the Boston University graduate student have to pay for illegally downloading and sharing 30 songs?
But for copyright-reform advocates, a lawsuit filed against Mr. Tenenbaum by the music industry has provided an instrument to sound alarms about a broader issue: how fear of enormous damages can chill innovation that involves even a minimal risk of copyright liability.
Those advocates, represented by lawyers from the law schools of Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley, are now pushing the court to set a legal precedent in the Tenenbaum case that they hope would help universities, artists, and others whose experiments may…
Kembrew McLeod’s youthful interest in 1980s hip-hop became a life-long scholarly pursuit when some of the groups he’d listened to as a teenager were sued in the early 1990s for using samples of previously recorded music.
“The issue—how the law affects sampling—is the entire reason I’m a professor,” says Mr. McLeod, an associate professor of communication studies at the University of Iowa.
It’s the subject of his second documentary film, Copyright Criminals, co-directed by Ben Franzen, which ran last year as part of PBS’s Independent Lens series and will be released on DVD in March. It is also available at Hulu.com.
As part of its Community Classroom program, PBS has released a curriculum centered on excerpts from the film that accompanies teaching materials for the classroom.
The materials are designed to apply to a wide variety of subjects, Mr. McLeod …
Students often create multimedia projects for classes that blend in clips from YouTube videos or hit songs, and many want to post their creations online for a wider audience. But does that violate copyright law?
“There’s definitely a low-level crisis in copyright education now,” said J. Patrick McGrail, an assistant professor of communication at Jacksonville State University and one of the co-authors of the study. “We’re living in a world where most students regularly appropriate material they see in the music and movies into…
The quarrel centers on a widely citedpaper by Felix Oberholzer-Gee, a professor at the Harvard Business School, and Koleman Strumpf, who now teaches at the University of Kansas. Mr. Oberholzer-Gee and Mr. Strumpf argued that file sharing does not have a net negative effect on the recorded-music industry. They arrived at that conclusion by examining the relationships among American record sales, American file sharing, and school holidays in Germany during the last quarter of 2002. (If file sharing injures CD…
Some professors and students in Canada are grumbling about a new copyright-reform bill that was introduced there Wednesday, saying that it would lead to new restrictions on the use of media in classrooms, distance learning, and libraries.
The proposed law is designed to make it easier to go after commercial pirates while allowing individuals to copy legally obtained content from one device to another and to make backup copies. But critics say the bill’s protection of so-called digital locks—encryption that publishers place on music, movie, or software files to keep them from being illegally copied—could make it impossible for users to do things that are technically legal, like making copies for educational use.
“The government has struck some pretty good compromises over all, but the one place where they didn’t compromise at all was with digital locks, and that’s incredibly…
Universities in Britain are alarmed about proposed legislation that could require institutions offering open wireless networks to monitor users to ensure that they comply with online copyright provisions, the BBC reports.
The Digital Economy Bill, which is making its way through the British Parliament, “imposes obligations on Internet service providers to reduce online copyright infringement,” a bill summary says. The new measures could result in large fines and network slowdowns or disconnections for providers of networks on which persistent infringements, such as music or movie piracy, are taking place.
The Society of College, National and University Libraries, whose members include all universities in Britain and Ireland, said in a statement that it welcomes the bill in principle, but that its “proposals for tackling online copyright infringement are something of a threat to us.” The …
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