Students get network ban over file sharing

Over 100 students at a Swedish university have been banned from using the institution's computer network after pressure from American media companies.

The students at Växjö University, southern Sweden, had been using the network for illegal file sharing.

Niclas Cronsioe, IT manager at the university, told The Local that most of the students were banned in 2004 and 2005. They had been downloading copyrighted material without permission in their apartments on the university campus. Only six students have been banned during 2006.

The university has received communications from a number of companies, including NBC Universal. The complaints mostly referred to the illegal downloading of films.

Cronsioe said that the letters are not threatening in tone, but rather advise the university of what they have found. The university’s policy is then to inform the student and ban them from the network for two weeks.

“We don’t have a policy to actively hunt down students who are file sharing, but when we get a letter or an email from an American film company we take action.”

Cronsioe explained that the university is connected to SUNET, the Swedish national university computer network. SUNET has a policy that expressly forbids students from downloading copyrighted material without permission.

“Students who are banned from accessing the network from their rooms are still allowed to use the university’s public computers, so their studies do not suffer,” said Cronsioe, who added that none of the banned students had complained.

The university’s policy is to always ban students who are using the network for illegal downloading, rather than to wait for police complaints. Cronsioe said that the university will be giving up control of Internet provision in student residences from the new year, when responsibility will pass to the property companies that own the buildings.