Internet2 Gets College Students in Legal Trouble

On 18 different college campuses across the country, more than 400 college students have recently been sued by the Recording Industry Association of America, for allegedly swapping pirated music files over a new nationwide computer network called Internet2.

The Motion Picture Association of America has announced plans to file an unspecified number of lawsuits targeting students at seven campuses, including Princeton, Columbia University, Ohio State and the University of California-San Diego, that have shared movie files over Internet2. Howard University is not currently one of the 200 public and private institutions subscribed to the Internet2 network.

Internet2 is a faster, more private version of the regular world wide web and basically works to connect computers and computer users across the country at very fast speeds, which makes it ideal for quickly sharing downloadable files. Internet2 representatives says it connects schools at a rate 20,000 times faster than the average broadband connection.

“Our focus is on creating the Internet of the future,” said Van Houweling to the Associated Press. Over 200 colleges and universities are a part of Internet2 including: University of Missouri-Rolla, UAB, Stanford, Harvard, Ohio State and FAMU to name a few. Additionally, research organizations, governmental organizations and companies belong to the Internet2 network, but it is a non-profit group that is not open to the general public.

Universities share research notes and tools and usually pay about $200,000 annually for all students to have access to the service that is limited to other members use only. Internet2 was first started at the University of California at Los Angeles and Stanford University to send research data back and forth between the two school in 1969. Eventually, they began to send technology and research information over this private, shared network. During the dotcom boom, it was expanded to hundreds of other colleges and companies that could produce a profit.

Mostly high-tech research is sent and accessed in databases in the system. A USA TODAY article stated that companies such as Cisco Systems and IBM also use Internet2 to test networking technologies.In the article, RIAA President Cary Sherman said that Internet2 has been “hijacked” by students for more than just education.

Many are sharing copyrighted files, he says “the equivalent of 175 CDs worth on average.”I2Hub or Internet2 advertises itself as the “largest student community in the world, with hundreds of thousands of users.” While it may not be doing anything to prevent students from sharing music and movie files, the shared network is not protected from lawsuits and regulations.

For now, Internet2 is maintaining a hands-off approach to the specific entities being shared by Internet2 users. George Mason student Anthony Merdis said, “I think it was only a matter of time before the new Internet2 system was corrupted. While students were sharing notes and research, they realized that other information not related to school could be shared also.”

He said that although he does not share music on the network at George Mason, he does not believe the students should have been sued.Internet2 CEO Douglas Van Houweling simply said in a statement, “The industry and the universities need to deal with it.”