Tightening the Net: Intellectual property micro-regimes and peer-to-peer practice in higher education networks

Steven J Jackson, Alok Vimawala


This paper examines recent responses by U.S. university administrators to the volume and legal challenges surrounding on-campus and in-residence peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic. Since the earliest days of online P2P activity, universities have served as key flashpoints in the broader file sharing and intellectual property debates. But while there has been considerable attention to the emerging file-sharing case law, and some attention to the shifting legal and political strategies of IP holders most affected by P2P traffic (or most aggressive in asserting their rights), the multiple, varied, and often ambivalent responses of university network administrators have for the most part escaped sustained attention. This paper draws on published survey and original interview data to explore the distinctive and heterogeneous policy sets put together by campus network administrators and decision-makers in dealing with IP issues associated with on-campus file-sharing practice. Such institutional micro-regimes constitute a crucial and understudied border zone between law and culture, functioning as key translation points through which external IP claims get filtered (e.g., DMCA take-down notices), and strategic sites at which a substantial amount of real-world IP regulation is effectively accomplished.


intellectual property; higher education; network policy

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v16i11.3649

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