i2hub network shuts down

The intercollegiate file-sharing network i2hub shut down Monday after the music recording industry threatened to sue it for allowing illegal downloads.

I2hub, which enabled file swapping over a special superfast Internet connection among more than 200 universities, is one of several networks to fall under recording industry pressure this fall. Some Yale students said the shutdown will hinder their ability to acquire music at college, but experts said the industry victory is unlikely to stem music sharing in the long term.

The announcement comes a week after Grokster, another file-sharing provider, closed down following a Supreme Court decision this summer. The Recording Industry Association of America’s renewed efforts to curb file sharing were encouraged by the Grokster case, BigChampagne Online Media Measurement CEO Eric Garland said.

“They seem to be emboldened by the Grokster decision from the Supreme Court,” Garland said. “In some ways that has accelerated the pace of a lot of this.”

An RIAA spokesperson said in an e-mail that the group is pleased with i2hub’s decision to shut down. The RIAA has sued 635 individuals using i2hub at 39 campuses this year.

“We continue to be encouraged by the response of many of the illegal peer-to-peer sites to the Supreme Court’s unanimous Grokster decision,” the spokesperson said. “The message from the Court has been heard, and we look forward to working with services that will respect the laws protecting creators.”

But Garland said the court decision — which states that companies cannot intentionally encourage piracy but does not prohibit the technology itself — will likely not have a serious long-term impact on file-sharing.

“I don’t see a net change in any of the underlying mechanisms,” he said. “People will continue to swap stuff to exchange media using the venues that they have always used.”

Garland said Grokster users will still be able to use their software, although i2hub will be inaccessible. I2hub’s Web site now merely displays a graphic stating, “Remember i2hub. R.I.P. 3.14.2004 – 11.14.2005.”

Zachary Turnbull ’07 said he was disappointed with the loss of i2hub because it allowed him to preview music before purchasing it.

“I feel a lot of people don’t just use it to steal music,” he said. “They use it to branch out.”

i2hub also provided textbook swapping and dating networks. Though it was popular among many universities, its user counting device had shown that only a handful of Yalies accessed it at any given time, Turnbull said.

Director of Network Services Joe Paolillo said i2hub utilized the extra-fast Internet2 network in the university consortium, but that the Internet2 connection will remain intact without the file-sharing program.

The Motion Picture Association of America is planning to sponsor a student competition for a nationwide public service announcement condemning online piracy along with Students In Free Enterprise, an international nonprofit student organization devoted to creating economic opportunity.

“The MPAA is committed to educating students, parents and all consumers to aggressively tackle the threat of piracy and stem the disturbing societal trend of illegal activity online by students of all ages,” MPAA Chairman and CEO Dan Glickman said in a press release.

Yale Chief Information Officer Philip Long said the University receives roughly 25 complaints against network users per month from copyright-holders. Long said he was unaware of any Yale student having been brought to court over the complaints.

Comments