Felten on the RIAA suing I2hub

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I’ve been meaning to post something about the suits filed this week by the RIAA against users of the i2hub file sharing software, which they managed to publicize as “RIAA sues Internet2”.

But I got caught up in moving the blog over to MySQL, and in the meantime, Ed Felten has put it much better than I would’ve.

Given all of this, my guess is that the RIAA is pushing the Internet2 angle mostly for policial and public relations reasons. By painting Internet2 as a separate network, the RIAA can imply that the transfer of infringing files over Internet2 is a new kind of problem requiring new regulation. And by painting Internet2 as a centrally-managed entity, the RIAA can imply that it is more regulable than the rest of the Internet.

Another unique aspect of i2hub is that it could only be used, supposedly, by people at univerisities that belong to the Internet2 consortium, which includes more than 200 schools. The i2hub website pitches it as a service just “by students, for students”. Some have characterized i2hub as a private filesharing network. That may be true in a formal sense, as not everybody could get onto i2hub. But the potential membership was so large that i2hub was, for all intents and purposes, a public system. We don’t know exactly how the RIAA or its agents got access to i2hub to gather the information behind the suits, but it’s not at all surprising that they were able to do so. If students thought that they couldn’t get caught if they shared files on i2hub, they were sadly mistaken.

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