Services & Software

U of Tennessee blocked P2P sites before RIAA law

RIAA didn't need a law to persuade Tennessee, the home of country music, to block P2P sites back in August.

D.J. Donahue says his school's ban on P2P and BitTorrent unfairly punishes gamers and Linux users.
Michele Wilson

Truth be told, the state of Tennessee didn't need a lot of prodding from the recording industry to pass a law that requires universities and colleges to filter for unauthorized music downloads.

Remember, Tennessee is the home of Nashville, country music, and Elvis. Some of the music industry's largest music publishers are based there. Some schools were apparently eager to comply with copyright protection. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville began blocking access to BitTorrent and file-sharing sites for possibly the last month, said D.J. Donahue, a graduate research assistant at the school.

"I have been unable to access any torrent or P2P sites for several weeks, and there was an e-mail sent to students about it," Donahue told CNET News.

News broke on Tuesday that Tennessee's governor signed a bill into law that was designed to thwart music piracy at the state's campuses. The bill requires Tennessee public and private schools to exercise "appropriate means" to ensure that campus computer networks aren't being used to download copyright material via file-sharing programs, according to the Web site of the Recording Industry Association of America.

A spokesman for the school could not be reached for comment.

"This is just another turn of the big orange screw," Donahue said referring to the university. "This places a burden on those of us who use the torrent and P2P systems for legal downloads."

Donahue said his school's ban on P2P and BitTorrent unfairly punishes gamers and Linux users like him.

"I am a Linux user, and the best way to download many distributions is through a torrent system," Donahue said. "I'm trying out new Linux distributions, trying out the new stuff that comes along and one of the major sources of that are peer-to-peer and torrent sites. Since Linux is a free download, their sites can't support massive HTTP bandwidth."

Donahue said that game sites, which issue big update files, often use torrent sites. He said that gamers at the school will be unjustly blocked from receiving these updates.