Colleges ranked on torrenting traffic
While headlines this week are focused on U.S. News and World Report's newest college rankings, there is another ranking making the rounds that universities probably don't want to be at the top of.
TorrentFreak released Monday a list of schools with the most BitTorrent downloads for 2013. Topping the chart is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (perhaps not surprisingly, TorrentFreak writes), with 1,935 recorded "hits" of torrenting activity. Rutgers, New York University, University of Houston and Texas A&M followed, all having at least 900 downloads.
Torrents allow users to share large files online, though they might best be known for the copyrighted content people illegally distribute through them. Searching a popular torrent website can quickly yield free copies of everything from the week's top albums to libraries of classic films.
Because everything that's transferred via torrent is public online, it's easy to trace where the files originate from, says the list's author and TorrentFreak's founder, who writes under the pseudonym Ernesto Van Der Sar.
"Traditionally there has been a lot of talk about downloading at universities and colleges, and legislation in the U.S., which tries to prevent it as much as possible," he says. "Entertainment companies are pushing the universities to educate their students about copyright and that they shouldn't download illegally."
These numbers are relatively small, Van Der Sar says, because of pressure on colleges and universities to report and punish students caught spreading illegal content. Colleges often warn students the first time they're caught, he says, but punishments can escalate up to suspension or expulsion.