Ars Technica featured a great piece on informal research conducted at Brandeis University on college efforts to address copyright and file-sharing issues. As IT administrators at Brandeis were developing their own set of policies related to this issue, they surveyed 79 members of the RESNET-L and Educause SECURITY mailing lists (running the gambit from Stanford to Kentucky University) on current practices. As the article put it,
The results demonstrate that colleges and universities take P2P and copyright infringement seriously—contrary to the assertions of Big Content...The survey shows that colleges—at least those represented in the survey—appear to take copyright issues and P2P traffic very seriously, despite some of the rhetoric being thrown around.
While the survey was hardly comprehensive, it provided a nice cross-section of American universities and offered some insights into current best practices, both technical and punitive. Most universities surveyed at least shape P2P traffic; some have banned it completely, while most use commercial software packages to help differentiate legitimate from illegitimate uses of P2P. Similarly, a majority of schools proactively educate students about the legal ramifications of file sharing and most will terminate network access for violators of acceptable use policies. These violators may have to write essays, pay increasing reconnection fees, or even be expelled.
The take-home message is that schools are actively addressing this, and have been doing so even before Congress began threatening funding and student aid. The question remains, though, will students change their practices long term when the concept of copyright is basically meaningless to an entire generation?