The Motion Picture Ass. of America (MPAA) has been forced to stop distributing its “University Toolkit” online after just one month because it may violate copyright laws.
The attempt to quash movie piracy via BitTorrent was taken offline yesterday.
A suite of open source applications was cobbled together to make colleges spy on their students’ file-sharing habits and encourage blocking. The package was based on Ubuntu, the desktop Linux distribution.
That would have been fine, except that the MPAA did not release the source code or provide a written offer for the code – potentially in violation of the GPL. All modifications to software licenced under the GPL, however minor, must be released.
Transgressing the GPL is a violation of copyright legislation, a fact not lost on Matthew Garrett, a Cambridge (UK) Ubuntu developer who sits on the distribution’s technical board. He and others in the open source community wrote to the MPAA to point out they could be breaking the law.
After his concerns were ignored, Matthew Garrett pursued the matter with the ISP hosting the site universitytoolkit.org. He wrote on his blog: “I did attempt to contact them by email and phone before resorting to the more obnoxious behaviour of contacting the ISP.
“No reply to my email, and the series of friendly receptionists I got bounced between had no idea who would be responsible but promised me someone would call back. No joy there, either.”
He then sent the ISP a DMCA takedown request (before and after shots here).