In a bit of irony, the “toolkit” that the MPAA is urging colleges to use to ferret out pennyless college kids who break the copyright law by sharing movies and music is itself breaking a copyright law.

BoingBoing reports:

The Toolkit is based on the GPL-licensed Xubuntu operating system (a flavor of Linux). The GPL requires anyone who makes a program based on GPL’ed code has to release the source code for their program and license it under the GPL. The MPAA refused multiple requests to provide the sources for their spyware, so an Ubuntu developer sent a DMCA notice to the MPAA’s ISP and demanded that the material be taken down as infringing.

Linux is an “open source” software. That means people share it. If I understand it correctly, you just can’t use the computer codes to make a program and then refuse to share the codes with the Linux community. By refusing to share, the MPAA essentially broke the agreement to keep ubuntu/linux open to all comers.
Slashdot reports:

“Ubuntu developer Matthew Garrett has succeeded in getting the MPAA to remove their ‘University Toolkit’ after claims it violated the GNU GPL. After several unsuccessful attempts to contact the MPAA directly, Garrett eventually emailed the group’s ISP and the violating software was taken down.”

Garrett writes on his blog:

The University Toolkit was an Ubuntu derivative designed to be used by universities to monitor their networks for any filesharing activity. It was provided without either an offer to provide the source or the source itself, and therefore breached the terms of the GPL.

For those unfamiliar with the story, LINK to my earlier report. A WaPost article discussed the software, and voiced concerns about privacy not only for students but that the toolkit allowed hackers a window to spy on the college’s internet if they didn’t have up to date (i.e. expensive) firewalls.

One should also be aware that the US Congress was considering a Democratic sponsored bill that required all colleges receiving federal aid to spy on students to detect copyright infringement.

Presumably, unless you are a geek (or read BoingBoing) you weren’t aware that Congress was planning to spy on hundreds of thousands of innocent students in the name of copyright infringement.

So what will MPAA do now? Enquiring minds want to know…

Maybe they can go out and steal the program from the Great Firewall of China. After all, Chinese pirating costs Hollywood a lot more than the P2P using students.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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