Last ‘Cloverfield’ administrators offer advice

File Photo
File Photo

Editors’ Note: Chimes has agreed to withhold the names of the authors of the Cloverfield article due to the authors’ involvement in a closed judicial affairs case.

We, the final two administrators of the Cloverfield network that was hosted on Calvin’s campus for most of the last decade, would like to close the books on the whole thing.

This article is being written for three main reasons: to clarify what exactly Cloverfield was, to clear up any confusions about what may have happened to us and to offer some friendly advice.

Back in 2002, a couple of Calvin students created an internal network file that they shared with anybody who was on Calvin’s network.

This was the inception of Cloverfield and although it was used for different circumstances and under a different name back then, it was always student-run and passed down from class to class, due to the fact that the content had to be kept on campus.

The administrator of Cloverfield maintained the content that was shared with the community and added new material that the student body requested. Near the end of the school year, it was the administrator’s responsibility to find the next student who would continue this tradition.

This continued for over 10 years. One of us ran Cloverfield for the 2011-2012 school year and the other had it at the beginning of the 2012-2013 year.

It’s important to note that old content is never deleted from the hard drives; when we inherited the contents of Cloverfield, it was a collaborative collection of content from the past 10 years. As one can imagine, this required immense hard drive space, as the material added up to well over four terabytes (one terabyte = 1,000 gigabytes).

The content ranged from TV shows and movies to songs and computer programs, all available for free download to anybody on the Calvin network. New TV shows, movies and albums were uploaded per request and the shared file was updated on a regular basis.

The motive of Cloverfield was quite simple: to provide the Calvin community with free content that is downloadable from the internet. Throughout the years, this practice has become more and more illegal; Congress only recently passed new laws that make online pirating highly illegal.

However, there was a deeper intention behind providing this free content, namely bandwidth maintenance. If current non-freshmen can recall, Calvin internet speeds were painstakingly slow the last few years, especially during the night.

During the fall semester of 2012, there was a misconception that Calvin had slow internet, when in fact, Calvin had terrific internet speeds. The network just had too many devices connected to it trying to download content.

When a new episode of “The Big Bang Theory” or “How I Met Your Mother” came out, many people rushed to their favorite torrent site and started downloading the episodes. Cloverfield tried to combat this by providing a central hub for new content.

Instead of 500 people downloading the same content, Cloverfield would download the new content and share it on an internal network, which would free up bandwidth. In theory, it sounded great, though we don’t actually know what effect it had, if any.

It was about a month and a half into the fall semester of 2012 when we were each separately approached by campus safety and judicial affairs. They quickly made it apparent that they knew about Cloverfield and knew who had been running it. We, of course, did not deny our involvement.

The legality of the situation was discussed, as were some questionable files that neither one of us knew were on Cloverfield. Our meetings both ended inconclusively, as the college now had its work cut out trying to figure out what they had to do and how we would be dealt with.

The next three weeks were among the longest of our lives. We didn’t know what was going to happen, whether we should inform our parents, if we would be kicked out of Calvin or if any legal authorities would become involved.

Finally, after a horrible wait, we learned that judicial affairs had decided to handle the matter internally. Part of the reason for the long wait, it turned out, was that they had to determine what exactly was on Cloverfield — there had apparently been rumors that various reprehensible files were on the hard drives, of a nature that would have required further external action by the college. These rumors were false, fortunately, and Calvin was able to handle everything itself.

We later learned that Cloverfield came to a screeching halt due to some first-year students stopping by CIT and asking where they could download free TV shows and movies; this upset us quite a bit.

Another reason why campus safety and judicial affairs stepped in was due to new laws that were passed by Congress in 2012 which made downloading and sharing pirated content from the internet super illegal. If they hadn’t intervened and we had been caught by an outside agency, the consequences would have been far greater for both us and Calvin College.

We are not writing this article because Calvin is forcing us or to bring attention to ourselves. Actually, we’d rather stay in the dark and let Cloverfield slowly fade into the history of Calvin. However, there are some things that need clearing up.

First of all, we’d like to clarify and hopefully debunk some crazy rumors we’ve heard about Cloverfield. No, we are not in a federal prison somewhere in Idaho. No, we did not get expelled from Calvin and are now on the run.

These myths are obviously not true; we are both still happily attending Calvin to this very day. There were disciplinary actions taken against us, but the issue was handled by Calvin College.

Second, we’d like to talk about the issue of hopeful students trying to bring back the glory days of Cloverfield by starting up their own file sharing on Calvin’s network. This is obviously a bad idea, since Calvin knows that such activity is going on and will eventually find you.

Most likely, you’ll face the same fate as us, if not worse. Don’t put yourself and your parents through the same struggles we went through. We’re not trying to preach about how it’s bad to pirate content from the internet (though we aren’t condoning it, either). We’re just trying to say that Calvin is not the place to do it.

Cloverfield was fun while it lasted, but the law regarding online pirating is just too strict and one can dodge the radar for only so long. This does not mean you can’t enjoy new TV shows, movies and music.

After the crackdown on Cloverfield, we started using Netflix and Hulu for our movies and TV shows — they’re perfectly legal ways to enjoy premium content. As for music, we use Spotify and Pandora (just getting into iTunes Radio) and all three services are free, legal and have the latest and greatest songs.

Cloverfield was specifically designed as an “admin-based operation” so that only one person was responsible for the content that was being shared. This was to prevent fallout on the student body if Cloverfield ever became an issue with the law. We’re glad that the hammer came down on us instead of all the students that utilized Cloverfield.

To the few students who know our identities, we trust that you’ll respect our request to stay anonymous. To the rest of the student body, we regret to inform you that this will be the final chapter of Cloverfield. It was good while it lasted, but as with all good things, it must come to an end.

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Chimes Staff

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