Yale student takes matters into his own hands over website censorship →

January 20, 2014 |

Sean Haufler, an Economics student at Yale, on how the University censored a course-selection website made by two fellow Yale students:

Last Friday (1/10/14), Yale blocked YBB+’s IP address on the school network without warning. When contacted, Yale said that YBB+ infringed upon Yale’s trademark. Harry and Peter quickly removed the Yale name from the site, rebranded it as CourseTable and relaunched. Yale blocked the website again, declaring the website to be [malicious activity](

Haufler then decided to take matters into his own hands and came up with a clever way to bring back the same functionality:

I built a Chrome Extension called [Banned Bluebook]( It modifies the Chrome browser to add CourseTable’s functionality to Yale’s official course selection website, showing the course’s average rating and workload next to each search result. It also allows students to sort these courses by rating and workload.

Best of all, this extension is built in a way that doesn’t infringe on any of Yale’s stated trademarks, and it cannot be censored via IP-blocking:

Banned Bluebook never stores data on any servers. It never talks to any non-Yale servers. Moreover, since my software is smarter at caching data locally than the official Yale course website, I expect that students using this extension will consume less bandwidth over time than students without it. Don’t believe me? You can read the [source code]( No data ever leaves Yale’s control. Trademarks, copyright infringement, and data security are non-issues. It’s 100% kosher.

This is awesome on so many levels. But it’s not all. In what can only be described as having balls of steel, Haufler ends his post by personally addressing the Dean:

Dean Miller, I humbly request that you, on behalf of Yale, either uphold or deny students’ right, under [school policy](, to build software like Banned Bluebook. If Yale affirms this right, I’d like you to publicly apologize for the events that have transpired over the last week, including Yale’s censorship of CourseTable and the pattern of hypocrisy we’ve seen in Yale’s copyright enforcement of course data. If Yale denies this right, I’ll see you at the punishment committee.

Students like Haufler should be rewarded for their integrity, not punished or threatened just so that they keep quiet. If the Dean is listening, the ball is on his court.

Via The Loop.