TorrentFreak pegs top pirating universities in U.S.

File-sharing remains a thorn in the side of U.S. colleges, with Rutgers and New York University apparently hosting the most pirates.

Charlie Osborne Contributing Writer
Charlie Osborne is a cybersecurity journalist and photographer who writes for ZDNet and CNET from London. PGP Key: AF40821B.
Charlie Osborne
2 min read

Restricting access to Web sites such as The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents has been a long-standing practice for universities in both the U.S. and United Kingdom.

Suffering under the strain of heavy traffic due to students streaming films and downloading gigabytes of data via torrents, academic institutions have attempted -- often in vain -- to curb the trend.

But when the next episode of "Game of Thrones" isn't out for another week and has been broadcast already in another country, the temptation is no doubt difficult to resist.

Universities are not unaware of this and have put in place different guidelines for students to follow. Princeton University may suspend computer privileges for repeat offenders -- as well as pointing out the potential for criminal charges -- whereas Cambridge urges its students not to receive or distribute files that may be protected by intellectual property law.

TorrentFreak has compiled a list containing the top college downloaders with help from ScanEye, based on tracking hundreds of thousands of public torrent files. By combing through IP addresses of individual universities, you can see which colleges have "downloaded" the most torrents.

On the table below, Rutgers University leads with 1809 "hits" from November 2011, followed by New York University (986 hits), University Of Houston (795), University of Southern California (776), and Texas A&M University (768).


However, compare this to Internet provider Comcast, which has logged millions alone, and you can see that the BitTorrent network at these colleges may have indeed been scuppered by anti-piracy protocols. The figures do not include pirates who have set up a virtual private network (VPN) or proxy to cover their tracks -- a practice difficult to measure and increasing in popularity.

It would also be wrong to assume every seeded file is illegal -- as the file-sharing protocol itself is not, and can be used to distribute large, legal files. But for students wanting to save their beer tokens, "free" software and films are a continual temptation. Rutgers' most popular downloads, for example, were Microsoft Office for Mac, Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, and movies "Fast Five" and "Pulp Fiction."