LimeWire uses the gnutella network and also the BitTorrent protocol. A free software version and a purchasable “enhanced” version are available. The software is developed by Lime Wire LLC, which is a subsidiary of Lime Group. BitTorrent support is provided by libtorrent.
Earlier this month, the RIAA filed legal documents asking for the shutdown of Limewire, and last week eight music companies filed a joint lawsuit against Limewire accusing the company of “massive copyright infringement.” Despite these legal battles, Limewire continues to be an extremely popular P2P program and is probably a software name teens are as a familiar with these days as Microsoft Office.
Since our family moved to Oklahoma four years ago and I started working with K12 schools here, I’ve encountered Limewire in several educational contexts. While I was still working for AT&T, I was surprised to learn about one of our schools whose director of technology had actually created custom firewall port rules for himself to use Limewire. While P2P programs can be used for licit filesharing, the vast majority of usage of these programs is illegitimate / illegal. Whether you are a technology director, a classroom teacher, a librarian, a principal or a student in a K-12 school, I’d find it difficult to accept any argument which could be put forward for the legitimate and legal need to use a P2P program like Limewire at school. Using P2P programs like this can not only be illegal (depending on the files which are shared or downloaded) but it can also be a BIG security risk from a malware perspective. (Lots of malware gets distributed as P2P files.) Unfortunately, the technology director in that school has not been the only Oklahoma educator I’ve encountered who openly uses Limewire at school.
In our Celebrate Oklahoma Voices workshops on digital storytelling, we spend time discussing copyright, intellectual property issues, Creative Commons and fair use. We do NOT have a discussion of P2P programs like Limewire in our curriculum, but after several conversations in workshops this spring and summer I’m thinking we should. This is a photograph I took recently of Limewire running on an Oklahoma teacher’s classroom computer, where it was being used by the teacher’s child to download music. (Note the “date” this photo is shown as being taken is this evening when I edited this image, NOT the actual date when I took this photo – which I do not wish to publicly disclose.)
I asked the teacher after we left the room and her child if she knew what the program “Limewire” was and what it was used for, and she said she did not. I explained it was used to share files, and often to download illegal copies of music and movies. I encouraged her to have a conversation with her child about the use of that software.
Unfortunately, I have not only talked with Oklahoma classroom teachers who have used (or permitted the use of) Limewire in their classroom, but also Oklahoma principals. One principal who participated in our COV workshop in the past had mentioned that s/he (I won’t disclose the gender of this individual) “could just download that song from Limewire” to use in their project. We explicitly address copyright and intellectual property issues in our workshop to encourage both understanding and respect for U.S. law, so a comment like this FROM A CAMPUS ADMINISTRATOR was and is really troubling.
All of these situations raise tough and delicate issues. These uses of Limewire on public school networks are almost certainly illegal and out-of-bounds from a propriety standpoint. As a workshop facilitator and guest in school districts, however, it places me in a difficult situation to report these alleged illegal and unethical acts. That is particularly true when the person who admits to using the P2P program is a campus administrator.
I’m going to suggest to our Storychasers leadership team that we include a specific discussion of P2P file sharing programs, including Limewire, as part of our phase 1 workshop agenda / curriculum. These situations highlight the importance of discussing intellectual property issues in professional development workshops with teachers. They also, however, raise “whistleblower” issues that I’m dealing with more frequently these days. Everyone likes to be praised publicly, but no one likes to be criticized. I am frequently having to censor what I write and share on my blog because of the waves of negative feedback I’m certain allegations of wrongful behavior or unprofessional conduct would have on me personally and the organizations which I represent professionally. These are very important ethical issues, and I am not convinced I’ve handled all of them in the best way I could in the past. Perhaps we should have a way of documenting and reporting these situations as workshop facilitators for Storychasers, and then leave it up to our organization to take the situations up with respective district administrators? (Since I’m the executive director of Storychasers that doesn’t put me out of the decision-making hotseat, but at least it would establish a procedure I can follow along with others when we encounter issues like these.)
Have you run into situations like this at your own school, at other schools, or when leading professional development workshops? If you become aware of a teacher, librarian, technology director, technician, or campus principal using a P2P program like Limewire, how do you handle it? If you’re not in that person’s “chain of command” and/or are employed by the district, does that make the way you handle the situation any different?
It would be nice if it was possible to be the bearer of criticism and avoid being shot as the messenger of bad news, but unfortunately that is not always the case in many organizations– including public schools.
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On this day..
- KidBlog Update - 2015
- A Radio Spot from Sir Ken Robinson Reminding Voters About the Importance of Teachers - 2013
- Visual Notes and Narrated Art: Benefits of Student-Created Videos on YouTube - 2013
- What Makes an Effective Technology Committee in Education (v.2) - 2012
- Social networking sites (SNS), Convivial Technologies and Digital Discipline - 2011
- First YouTube video published directly from the iPhone GS (Irrelevant Paper) - 2009
- links for 2008-06-20 - 2008
- Podcasting facilities to be provided at NECC 2008 - 2008
- Changing the Face of Our Educational Practice Using Web 2.0 Technologies - 2007
- Building Schoolwide Online Collaboration - 2007