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What's Banned On Your Campus? 539

Going through the Slashdot submission bin, one story has been popping up over and over again over the past few months. Every few days, someone writes in to tell us about yet another university that has banned Napster, the popular mp3 distribution tool. From Indiana University to Seton Hall, there are over a hundred colleges and universities that have banned its use. It's not just Napster, either. DeCSS and internet telephony are being targeted, as well. Some people say it's censorship, others say it's just a matter of reclaiming the university's bandwidth.

We wanted to give the Slashdot readership a chance to talk about this issue. The 'Students Against University Censorship' have set up a site chronicling the day-to-day Napster battle, listing every school they know of that has banned the program. What's going on at your school? What are their policies regarding Internet usage? Have you had a run-in with the collegiate authorities over something you were trying to do? Let us know!

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What's Banned On Your Campus?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is how you ban napster (assuming your firewall uses ipfwadm)

    /sbin/ipfwadm -I -i deny -P tcp -S 8875
  • What concerns me is how the Internet it going to react to this. The age old saying about the Internet and routing around censorship seems to apply here.

    From reading briefly about Stacheldraht it hides some control information inside of innocent ICMP packets. I see a future where things like napster get smart and start moving into protocols and traffic that are both general required not to be blocked (certain types of ICMP), and also very common (HTTP).

    If we could piggyback napster into HTTP and have enough distributed servers that IP address blocking couldn't work how could you tell napster use from regular HTTP at the high traffic levels that we are seeing.

    Sprinkle in the use of encryption and I think that in the future nothing will be sacred, in terms of reserved ports, and that whatever traffic is important to the masses will get through whatever is implemented to block it.

    Already there are some concerns regarding the feasibility of IDS's in 100Mbit and Gigabit networks. Are we going to start needing dedicated Beowulf clusters just to analyze network traffic in close to real-time.

    Once IPsec and IPv6 come into the picture will network censorship will probably become even more difficult.
  • I wonder what the chances are that the universities are recieving a little bit of persuasion from the record industry on this one?

    In most cases, zero.

    It may of course be the case that they are just worried about their bandwidth getting chewed


    With respect to research: much of the time research use of education networks tends to take up tiny ammounts of bandwidth so why not use up the rest :)

    Perhaps you attend a well-funded small private university or one like Northwestern, which can be heard on CNN complaining about how much of their 622-Mbit connection is being consumed by Napster. (sarcasm) My heart goes out to them (/sarcasm). At most universities, strictly educational/research uses are sufficient to saturate inbound links. Your post indicates that you don't grasp the severity of the problem. In our case at least, the network is UNUSABLE during "business hours." If I can get modem speeds (2-3kB/s), it's a good day. Never attribute to conspiracy what can be adequately explained by poverty.


  • You've got to remember what the University installs these networks for: learning.

    That's one way of looking at it. There's also the opportunity cost of NOT installing high speed networks. Leave aside the value to the institution as a whole and consider only the residential networks. Universities which don't have Ethernet in every dorm room and a decent backbone connection will lose applicants. Sure, it can enhance the educational experience but it's also "entertainment," in the same category as cable TV (which I think should never be installed in dorm rooms but that's another issue).

    I think all schools have some document which students must agree to to use the network; they're probably pretty much all the same and the ones I've seen are reasonable. If your use of the network isn't illegal, doesn't violate other university policies (cheating, harrassing, etc.), and most importantly, doesn't significantly interfere with the use of the network by others (every use could be considered interference so it should be "significant interference"), then it should be okay. If Dialpad was causing a problem I'd say there's something wrong with the network they're running. Napster, or any other program that deals in large amounts of data can be a violation if it gets a lot of use. I hope that schools blocking Napster first checked to see if there was a small number of students who were using it really heavy. Actually I bet it's often the case that it's not the widespread use but the abuse by a few that causes the problems.

    This kind of stuff is similar to carrying the binary newsgroups. I think it's better if they basically carry the "full" USENET groups but it's not censorship if a school decides to not carry any binary newsgroups because of the bandwidth and system load they require.

  • Well, Napster is clearly a software product that is used almost exclusively to pirate MP3s, it leeches up a lot of bandwidth, and has some pretty bad security holes that means that potentially the client can be forced to serve up any file to a malicious Napster server.

    I don't ban it for that, I ban it because Napster wastes precious bandwidth for the company I work for and has nothing to do with solid state motor controls. There isn't another single application which wastes so much bandwidth on my networks. pr0n is bursty. FTP war3z I stop too but it's not quite so easy. Napster is an easy target and after nuking it I see an immediate increase in available bandwidth.

  • It's the university's bandwidth, they can say what does and doesn't pass through it. Personally, I feel the same way to "censoring" things in libraries. It's the library's computers, they can say what you read or don't read on it, the only problem here is the censorware's blacklist, and it being abused

    Not the same thing at all. (1) A library is supposed to be a "common carrier" of information. They should provide you with any book you ask for (perhaps they may ask a small administration fee if they need to buy it especially or ship it from another library), and they should offer free access to the Net. (2) The library censorship that's topical at the moment is not decided by the libraries themselves: it's forced on the libraries by local government. I guess it's within the local government's rights to do whatever they like with their funding, but this kind of thing deserves a referendum.
  • I can understand getting in trouble for forwarding crap (the usual spam, chain-mails, etc.) - but only by those who you forward it to. If you didn't send the purity test to the admins and none of your friends complained to them about it, how did they find out? If they read your e-mail, then I'd say this is something you really should object to!

    Actually, one of my friends found it so amusing, he sent the whole thing to the dot-matrix printer queue; then forgot about it. An admin found this *big* pile of paper on the out tray, and of course, the From: header was the first userID on the page, and that found its way to some big cheeses.

    I had to make my case to someone "important", and basically made it clear that I didn't consider the material to be obscene (it wasn't), but that I understood that it was an abuse of the university's IT services (it was).

    The guy who printed it bought me a Guinness in apology. One of the best Guinnesses I've ever had, because I gave blood immediately before ;)
  • Exactly! That is so obviously the way to go, I'm amazed there's any issue at all.

    Quality of Service was designed to resolve exactly these kinds of issues, and I can honestly see no justification, on the part of Universities or anyone else, to ban traffic they could equally well simply confine to "space available". It doesn't hurt -them- if spare bandwidth is utilised and may actually HELP them, as the students are going to figure ways round any legal blocks, anyway.

    (Anyone who tries to block ports will discover how easy it is to install a port redirector on two sides of a firewall.)

  • A Stich In Time Saves Nine.

    No, that's not a ST:Voyager episode, that's a saying that a lot of IT departments need to keep in mind. Sometimes, you save to sacrifice a few "high-priority" tasks that really aren't, to install the facilities that would prevent those "high-priority" tasks (or worse!) from occuring in the future.

    Yes, you might say, but we're paid to do these NOW! That's very true, but it's also not the point. If a ship is sinking, it pays more to plug the holes than to bail, no matter WHAT the Captain might be telling you to do. Sometimes, the Captain is simply not that important. Getting the job done IS. You can always pass on the credit, when your users start showering praise, once disaster has been averted. That's not the problem.

    If you obey the Captain blindly, and focus only on the short-term glitches, your ship, the HMS Information Technology, will sink. It might take a while, or it might be tomorrow, but it can't stay afloat for long, if you're concentrating more on the water than the holes. Repair the holes and the water will take care of itself.

  • Actually, most private schools get a lot of their money from donations.


  • if they were attempting to keep you from (for example) posting a politically contentious website, I would agree with you. Or if they tried to forbid satire -- I was actually involved in a case where a student satirized the university home page while I was working there. And I defended him.

    But there's a big difference between that and pirating MP3's.


  • You are absolutely correct. One of the things that truly bothered me when I was working in education was this whole idea that education is a business and students are customers. A university should pursue knowledge -- not more customers. I think many universities have forgotten that this is where their purpose really lies.


  • The only thing really, really banned at my college is, believe it or not, single sex halls of residence. You are not allowed to have a corridor of all girls bedrooms. There has to be at least one boy in the corridor. This is enforced more strictly than any other rule bar none; drugs, theft, you name it... no crime is worse than living in a single sex hall.

    I went to Cheltenham and Gloucester College [] in the UK, a small degree college specialising in teaching, computing and art.

    Unsurprisingly females outnumbered males 6 to 1 when I was there (now down to 2:1)- dunno why girls tend to like teaching and art, but they do.

    This attracted local pervs like you would not believe. Prowlers, stalkers, even, I'm sorry to say, two rapists. You see, they could guarantee that certain buildings were inhabited only by girls. Easy pickings. Force open a window, any window, it doesn't matter... there'd be a girl there.

    The problem was solved overnight by banning single sex corridors in halls of residence. Apparently prowlers, stalkers and rapists tend to go away if they suspect they're going to bump into the male rugby football captain instead of some female arts student.

    The policy is amazingly successful. It literally got rid of the problem overnight. There hasn't been one single case of prowlers since (like 8 years ago), let alone stalkers or rapists.

    Why is this relevant to Slashdot? Because it was the same damn prudes and far-right christian arseholes who were against single sex dorms then, who are are against uncensored internet access now.

    Sex and sexual activity is a fact of life (heck without it there wouldn't be ANY life). Trying to censor it or segregate it out of existence is a waste of time. And more importantly, trying to do so is counter-productive.

    I could understand censorship if we were talking about primary (kindergarten) schools, but we're talking about high school, sixth form (7th grade) and universities here!

    The age of consent is 16 for heaven's sake... just bolt a few condom dispensers to the back of the toilet doors and let them get on with what consenting adults are legally entitled to do!

    As for MP3s, well, that's just a bandwidth issue, not a freedom of speech or censorship issue. As such it is a fair point in my opinion.


  • Grond wrote: Your argument is logically flawed. Just because 'damn prudes and far-right christian arseholes' disapproved of coed dorms does not mean that they are automatically wrong about anything else.

    My argument didn't say that prudes/xtians were 'wrong about anything else', it said that they were wrong about two specific things: single sex dorms and internet censorship, and I went on to justify why they were wrong for each of those two cases, gave examples for each reasons, and discussed how the two cases are linked.

    If that isn't a logical argument then obviously your idea of a logical argument is limited to only those that you agree with.

    Is this the five minute argument or the full half hour?


  • I personally attend Indiana University and fully support the banning of Napster and all these people that are complaing about censorship this and what about our technology fees that need to get their heads out of their ass and realize they don't have the right to complain. I cant speak for other UNviersities but ehre at IU we have an agreement of fair use that everyone agrees to when they are given acess to the network. Obviously people dont read over it, but I have, basically it boils down to that the UNiversity owns the entwork and you get to use it as long as its for educational purposes. Obviously they cant block or police everything and make sure its only being used for educational purposes, but none the less, if they decided they didn't want to provide access to the world wide web at all, they could do that, its their choice. Its not censorship, Its their network and you agree to their terms. Now everyone goes well what about these 100 dollar student technology fees I pay? Well in addition to be an extremely computer literate student, I also work inside IUTS which is a major player in teh IU network. Your student technology fees, go towards, buying new computers, keeping the computer labs working nice, keep the main servers up, they do NOT pay for bandwidth, and seeing as napster was tkaing up over 70 percent of the bandwidth here, they have every right to block it, its not educational use, and its abusing the network, their is no hidden agenda against mp3's its puerly an issue with resources, and your techonology fee never gives you the right to abuse the privelage to abuse something you are let to use. Its not your right to view web pages, your lucky that the university gives the right and should be thankful. If you dont want censorship then find an ISP that doesnt care what you do and go with them. I just want all these people to stop complainng and wake up and realize they are complaing about rights being taken away and they arent rights they're privelages.
  • For 30k a year, i'll use my bandwidth for whatever i damn well please, thank you very much.

  • And we are *sortof* banning napster. It IS possible for it to be used, you just have to know what you're doing a little bit (as with most of the methods used by the colleges.) Methods to get around types of banning are posted on []. Our SOLE reason for doing this was bandwidth. Period. There was little to no thought put into the legality of it. Our policy states that the network should only be used for academic purposes and thatthe network is a shared resource. If something you are doing is adversly affecting someone else's chance to get an education then you get shut down. We're a small college, so we don't have the man power or the money, or the time to look into throttleing bandwidth such as other Universities are doing. We wish we could. This is the first and so far only thing we've banned (though iMesh may soon follow). I'm interested in seeing napster saved myself. I love it, it's a great program, its design, however, leaves most universities no choice but to do something about it (whatever that sometihg is.) I'm sure I'm going to get flamed on this one by irate students, and I've gotten flames from students here. It's often not up to the sysops though, we got complaints from everybody on campus on how slow the internet connection is, and Napster was the cause. We had to do it so that the 90% of the people on the network who weren't using napster had bandwidth to do real academic work. This is not an issue about censorship. Students who complain that it's censorship obviously don't have all the facts straight and are jumping on the latest cause bandwagon.(I keep thinking about a 2000 version of PCU:) ) I've signed up for the save napster mailing list and I plan on keeping very close tabs on what's going on. I believe this will be a defining issue. This is the first real big issue that Universities have faced since putting in ResNet networks.
  • Yes, that's a good position. Unfortunately (here in the states, anyway) universities are moving farther and farther away from actually adhering to legal principles (like due process) while taking more legal or quasi-legal action against students.

    There's a horribly scary book about this - "The Shadow University" by Kors and Silvergate. Definately worth reading.
  • While I generally agree with you, it is just as (perhaps even more so) important to use your moral faculties when studying, obeying or disobeying the law.

    There are a lot of laws which are in effect but which are weird and pointless, there are a lot of laws that must be challenged because they conflict with other laws, and there are laws which are perfectly okay from a legal standpoint, but which are morally repugnant and which must be fought at every turn.

    Blindly obeying the law is a *bad* idea. Instead, be sharply critical of it, and don't be afraid to argue and act against a law if it is truly immoral (which I'm using rather loosely to also include those acts which would seek to rob us of our inalienable freedoms too)
  • Well, sure mp3 piracy needs to be curtailed, but not at the expense of preventing the use of the mp3 format altogether. Nor at the expense of mp3 sharing mechanisms which can be quite legal, as is demonstrating.
  • Back in the days of the ARPANet, I am told, there was a lot of similar agonizing to whether or not it was okay to use a government-sponsored research network for unrelated uses (like personal email).

    Guess how that argument panned out ;)

    I'd say that there should be a limit on uses that are clearly illegal (Napster is not necessarily illegal - it stays unless you can prove otherwise) and that there should be caps on the amount of bandwidth that you can use, determined by the current demand. If it's 3am and the pipes are open, who the hell cares if you hog it all. Just be prepared to give it up when another night owl comes online.
  • UTA has NOT banned Napster or mp3s and announced a few weeks ago they plan on NOT banning mp3s or Napster. I submitted the article to Slashdot but it was, of course, reject. Ahh well. Pretty cool, huh? And they've announced plans to increase our bandwidth...there's obviously ways to work WITH the traffic caused by Napster instead of just banning it - there's almost 20,000 students here and a lot of them are on the network, but somehow they're managing to get us pleanty of bandwidth for educational and slightly less educational activities. ;)
  • Basically, someone at the University (or maybe a script) should send emails to anyone hosting copyrighted material on Napster and tell them to delete it or face temporary termination of their connection. A student can't complain, because they _are_ breaking the law. This way, not everyone is punished for what only some people do.

    Well now isn't this funny. If the university points out that pirating MP3s is illegal, and that people should stop it because they're chewing up bandwidth its ok. But God help the RIAA when they point out that just maybe pirating MP3s is illegal , and that maybe universities should ban Napster.

    Compare the tone of this disscussion with any one of the other Jihads on 'Your rights on line'... The motivation for the control of napster must be irrelevant. Either, pirating MP3s is illegal, or its not. Doesn't matter who's pointing the finger or why. Now how far you want to go for that control depends upon which side you are looking at napster from (student or record company).

    The fact is that if Unversities don't control MP3 piracy on campus, it will be used as an excuse to implement more and more draconian copy right protections by the Entertainment Industry.


  • I found it amusing that the "network administrators" never heard of traffic shaping. Granted, the banning is kind of shaping, but it's a rather drastical one.

  • I sysadmin at a decent Engineering School with a crappy IT infrastructure (read no money and PHB's in charge of budget). We do some net-monning and if you do port scans Napster chugs bandwidth worse than anything else people use. We don't care to much about non-educational usage, but serious bandwidth hogging is a no-no. Napster is an obnoxious littl program, I remeber back in the days of ftp leach..... these kids now-a-days.

    -just my $.03


  • My campus is having the same problem. Instead of banning Napster, the campus people capped the dorm bandwidth really low (this is Berkeley -- the dorms have a LOT of people). the network was/is slow and unreliable enough that I could not install RH 6.1 from ftp (I have a laptop with no cdrom drive -- I dont' exactly have a choice. I eventually found a mirror in the dorms, but it was still bad.)

    it's a pity that people use so much bandwidth gratuitously -- streaming audio/video that they don't even watch/listen to, illegal MP3's, warez... (slashdot's my entry on that list, I guess :) )

    and, despite what they say there, my connection to some of the campus servers is still quite slow. is it possible that a lot of internet traffic trying to get out over a capped link can make other traffic (which is not capped) slow? it's entirely possible that it's the servers -- the EECS department needs some more unix boxen!


    Dear Lea,

    I wrote to you two weeks ago regarding slow network connections in the Residence Halls. I am writing you today with an update. At present, residence halls have high speed connections (100Mbs) to each other and to all resources located on campus. Transfer rates to servers outside of campus, however, may continue to be slow at times.

    The amount of traffic from the residence halls to the outside world has increased dramatically over the past few months. Residents who are using large amounts of bandwidth to the outside world, by running the popular software Napster or popular FTP and web servers, are greatly diminishing network transfer rates for everyone else with a residence hall connection.

    The residence halls share bandwidth with all other campus users, including ongoing research projects which rely on consistent connection rates. To ensure adequate bandwidth availability for all campus uses, the department of Communication and Network Services has restricted the total amount of bandwidth available to the residence halls for communication with the outside world. The e-mail below from the Director of Communication and Network Services provides details on the actions they have taken.

    Residential Computing is continuing to work with Communication and Network Services to achieve a balance between competing demands for bandwidth throughout campus. We understand that current transfer rates from sites beyond campus are slower than they have been in the past. If you are currently using Napster or running a web server, we strongly encourage you to stop. If you have a friends who are running Napster, we encourage you to ask them to stop. Through increased resident education and ongoing discussions with Communcation and Network Services, I will do my best to improve network connectivity for all reshall students.

    Please read the message from Communication and Network Services below for more information.

    >From Cliff Frost, Director of Communication and Network Services regarding network connections in the residence halls:


    The Berkeley campus pays approximately $600 per megabit/second/month for connectivity to the worldwide Internet. (There are start-up costs not included in that figure, and a base cost below which the total cost cannot go, but that is a good approximation of our current cost.)

    The Residence Hall networks are very well-connected to the rest of campus, and to the Internet in general. This is accomplished via a 100 megabit/second connection between the residence halls and the rest of the campus network.

    Up until approximately November, 1999, the sustained use of the Residence Hall network connection was approximately 15 megabits/second. This was for all traffic--both with other campus sites and with the Internet in general.

    Recent History:

    Coinciding with the tremendous popularity of "napster" (which is a very nice tool in many ways) there has been a tremendous and rapid growth in the campus's traffic to and from the Internet. This growth also coincided with a similar growth to and from the Residence Halls.

    In looking at the traffic patterns, and concerned about how we would pay for the exploding use of the Internet, CNS staff noticed that traffic across the 100 megabit/second connection to the Residence Halls had sprung up to peaks of 40 megabits/second and a sustained level of 25. At that point, CNS put a cap onto the traffic that the Residence Halls could exchange with off-campus sites, at 20 megabits per second. Note that this cap did NOT apply to traffic with other on-campus sites.

    The effect of the 20 megabit/second cap was immediate. Traffic across the link dropped to peaks of 22-25 megabits/second, implying that most of the traffic across the link is with off-campus sites.

    CNS later set the cap at 15 megabits/second and then to 10. From the data gathered it appears that the Residence Halls exchange between 2 and 5 megabits/second with the rest of campus. All the rest of the traffic is bound for the Internet.

    Current Status:

    At the request of Housing & Dining Services, CNS has temporarily raised the cap to 15 megabits/second while we try to work out ways to manage the explosive demand for Internet bandwidth from the Residence Halls. Housing & Dining has asked for CNS's assistance in analyzing the situation and developing potential solutions.

  • I'm working on a MS in Computer Science at Brigham Young University--one of the most conservative schools you'll ever find. As part of the agreement to get a student account on the network, you agree not to run a server. But the reason is not to censor anyone--it's to control costs.

    Before anyone starts calling me a tool of the system, let me point out that I did my undergraduate work in Communications Studies and their is no faster way to get me riled up than to get me talking about the evils of the administration's stranglehold on the student^H^H^H^H^H^Hchool newspaper

    I was talking Monday with a friend who works as a network administrator for the school, and he said they just did a network analysis to see where their bandwidth was being used. It turned out that 1/12 of the bandwidth to the Internet for the _entire_ school of 28,000 students was being used by a single freshman. He was running a Napster server and got his account canned.

    He didn't get canned because it was Napster or MP3s. He didn't get canned because they wanted to "censor" him. He got canned because (a) he violated the Conditions of Use in his account agreement, and (b) the school has only limited bandwidth and doesn't want to pay for any more.

    Before we immediately start screaming about censorship, we need to also consider how many students may be abusing the so-called "free bandwidth" they are getting. After proper consideration, and if it's justified, then we can start civilly arguing about censorship.

    NOTE: The opinions expressed in this comment are entirely my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of my employers.

  • y/comp_policy.html []

    7.4.2 Collegiality and sharing demands that each user treat all other users as they wish to be treated. The following list indicates activities that improve the computing environment for everyone:

    Deleting unneeded files and electronic mail to make disk space available for other users

    Avoiding use of university computing and network facilities for tasks unrelated to academic or administrative activities particularly when the facilities are heavily used

    Avoiding use of university dial-in communication facilities for tasks unrelated to academic or administrative activities particularly when the dial-in lines are heavily used

    Avoiding use of computing and network facilities to peruse the Internet or chat with user groups when the facilities are being heavily used for academic and administrative activities

    Refraining from using disk space for the storage of large sound or graphic files (e.g., pornography) that are not directly related to university activity

    Refraining from consuming computing or network resources to play games (e.g., MOO's, MUD's, etc.) except when required for course assignments or research projects

  • by Ryn ( 9728 )
    My university is planning to ban multiplayer games too. At least I fall into the grandfather's clause, but sucks to be new students, when they won't be able to play Unreal against each other.
    This is stupid. University is claiming that games take up bandwidth dedicated for research, even though research network is on www2.
  • Let's face facts for a minute. Internet Telephony isn't capable of swamping the infrastructure of major research universities. But, it sure puts a crimp in the campus IT budget if a major source of their funding is inflated long distance charges they put on students and faculty.

    This is a serious dilemma from a operations standpoint, but it doesn't make sense to raise false issues. AFAIK, the vast majority of the technically savvy students have a far better grasp of the true network performance than campus bureaucrats anyway. The staff that is as good as the students is often two or three rungs below the people who get quoted.

    I'm just an alumnus of an engineering school now, and not on campus on a daily basis. So, let me know if I'm off base.

    Dave Aiello

  • I completely agree. AS an admin of one the universities on "The List" we had no choice. Our bandwidth is first and foremost for education. Anything you do with it after that is up to the student until that interferes with the use of the bandwidth for education and as we saw on our campus 80% of our bandwidth was being used for napster. Hardly education. I love napster and if we could we would turn it back on in an instant. Unfortunately we have found no way to do this.

    And to answer further questions: We do not charge for the internet connection .We charge a $100 dollar technology fee every year that goes towards keeping our labs in good shape and the computers in them cutting edge. (with only 2500 students thats not much to work with when it comes to hardware, licensing and upgrades)
  • My lame high school blocks ALL traffic except http and https traffic going through their I-GEAR censoring proxy. No email. No NNTP. Everything must be done on the internal netwokr and is content filtered.

    You may have noticed my mention of https. We have constructed a https bouncing proxy site to go where we like on the web.
  • I attended a state school. I assure you that students have lab fees to pay for networks, computer labs, etc. at public schools just as they would in private schools.

    I know that when it was new, ICQ was "banned" in the dorms. Obviously ICQ is not very network intensive, but it was deemed a security risk. (If you have ever taken a look at the protocalls, you would understand why.) Firewalls in place...bam bam! No more ICQ. I believe there was something of a protest over this, and eventually the restriction was lifted.

    (Of course, even if they aren't, ICQ is now pretty smart about getting through firewalls. I'm not sure if it was then, I don't remember.)

    So the question important are these programs to the student body? If they decide it is important, then there needs to be some organization to express that to the university. Quietly grumbling isn't going to get anything done.

  • I'm not a fascist administrator or anything, but if I were, and I wanted to avoid an "arms race"... I'd simply expel students who used napster after the ban was announced.
  • "Clearly, they cannot condone the flagrant ripping of MP3's on campus."

    Last I checked, ripping a CD (you owned) wasn't illegal. I assume you would like to see campuses also cut down on people copying LPs to cassette tapes?

    And another point. Banning Napster doesn't prevent people from pirating MP3's. Banning illegal MP3's will ban illegal MP3's. Funny how that works. It takes vigilance to stop crime, not another line in the old port filter.

    Bad Mojo
  • Is banning Napster censorship? Or is it banning an application which hogs bandwidth from users who may need it?

    Networks are expensive to maintain and bandwidth is also expensive on the scale a university needs. If a significant percentage of bandwidth can be eliminated without affecting academics (remember the piece of paper after 4+ years of school is the purpose of being in college), then what is the problem?

    Remember the primary purpose of any campus network is for acadmic purposes. Show the university admins academic reasons for using banned software and the ban should be lifted. (Boy is that last sentence wishful thinking)

  • Whether a school is a state college depends on who runs it, not where its funds come from. I attend a state school, but I have to pay a lot of money out of my pocket to do so, even with a scholarship. The bill I pay to live in my dorm - which includes the network connection - works out to about the same monthy rent I'd be paying to stay at a private apartment (and most local apartement buildings have their own networks and high-bandwidth internet connections.)

    In other words, I certailny do pay for the privilege of having a high-speed internet connection, and expect not to have my use thereof arbitrarily regulated. And my university recognises this: the only activities expressly forbidden are those which are already illegal.
  • If you mean 10 or 15k, I'll have to smack you around.
    Yes yes yes, big KB like ISDN speed, not kbps. That's just silly :)

  • OK, you can bitch about how "I'm paying for the bandwidth" but the truth is, you're not even coming close. And what's the big deal? No University student NEEDS a super high-speed connection in their dorm room. Isn't it possible to just throttle the dormNet connections to, say, 10 or 15k/sec? That's plenty fast to surf around a bit, but slow enough to make snagging that new Limp Bizkit album or the latest pirate VCD's a real pain in the ass.
    Furthur complaints about "censorship" or "I'm paying for it" come off to me as merely self-centred whining. Jeez, I was impressed when my roommate dialed into the library cataogue computer with a 2400 baud on his IIci to check for books!

  • Here at Marquette, we haven't banned anything excpept the usual "You may not conduct illegal activities, you may not use University machines to do conslting unless you pay for the resources" things.

    However, reverse DNS does not work on our Internet-connected dormitory machines, making usage of them for Napster/Quake/etc. servers Not a Good Idea.

    Plus there's probably not enough room on the VAX that houses our "University-approved" homepages for any of this stuff.
  • If I own a CD, I can do anything I please with it, short of redistributing the music. ... All of this is legal, provided I own the CDs that are the source material for the MP3s. It is no different than recording a CD onto a cassette tape so that you can listen to it in an old Walkman.

    You would think so. For example, you would also think that if you legally purchased a DVD for your own private home use, you would have the right to operate that DVD with a computer running Linux, even if you have to write some software to support it. That makes sense, doesn't it?

    Unfortunately, under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, you do not have the right to do any of these things. Almost no forms of copying are still considered "fair use." If you access the data on the disc in just about any way that the publisher doesn't specifically authorize, you have infringed on their copyright.

    See the Slashdot story on the DeCSS injunction [], or the text of the judge's ruling itself. []
  • My campus (which shall remain nameless except to those who know me and probably go here too) seems to have banned freedom of expression. Mind you, they'd argue with me about that, because I'm expressing myself to say it. Particularly on network matters this applies. I'll clarify to prevent the usual "well, you're just some lame script kiddie who thinks he knows what he's doing and tries to tell the professionals what they're doing blah blah blah".

    I do LOTS of large-scale networking stuff as my hobby/semi-profession. I make it my responsibility to know what I'm talking about so I can explain what's wrong to users when it goes wrong, and as such have gained a very reasonable base in the fundamentals of networking and such over the time I've been administering UNIX/Linux systems. I can spew the buzzwords (BGP, IGMP (eww), OSFP, OSI Network Model, whatever) like the best of them, and at least have a decent understanding of what they mean. I also have resources who, if I DON'T know what something means, I ask them, and then I do understand.

    So I contact our Network Operations department about a network outage, or a problem with inbound routing that is (admittedly by me) not their problem, but should be spoken to our provider about, or whatever. As a general rule I refuse to make the "hey, the network is broken!" complaints; I try to figure out the problem myself first, and then tell them about it. As a general rule, in most circumstances, I have been told by the manager or others in NetOps to go to hell, and that they know damned well what's wrong with their network, they get paid for this, I can't POSSIBLY know what I'm talking about, and to go away.

    I don't understand this attitude to someone going out of their way to provide helpful information and possible diagnoses instead of "the network is broken". As a sysadmin and tech support provider myself, I know that SMART users who try to figure out problems themselves before contacting support@wherever make the support team's lives MUCH easier, and I for one am happy to get reports of problems, whether I've noticed them or not; it shows that people are paying attention and care enough about the service to ask it to get fixed.

    So; I get told I'm not allowed to express that I'm having problems with the network, or if I do, that I'm not allowed to try to help. Great situation, if you ask me. So now I just don't bother. I look for my own ways around it. And if they don't like it, I guess they should have let me try to help them instead of working against them.

    Don't mind me as I rant aimlessly.

    Tim Wilde
    Gimme 42 daemons!
  • Here at the University of Idaho, all on campus machines that are not designated to be external servers can only send outgoing connections. All dorms and student lab machines are firewalled from the internet and from eachother.

    This very effectively keeps student porn web servers from popping up, but it dosen't prevent us from downloading anything.

    It easily prevents a large number of security problems, but it also creates a group of people that use SSH to forward high numbered ports from CS servers so that they can access their systems despite the firewall.

    I moved off campus because I trust my server more than I trust the campus servers that are unavaliable too often for comfort and I am using ADSL so that I can telnet to my machine from anywhere. It is a simple solution, nobody is forcing you to stay on campus and ADSL actually gives me a faster connection to the internet than the university service did.

    I understand their position, and they still have a problem with people downloading gigs of mp3s and other files, but it nearly eliminates the liability problems of student run illegal MP3, Warez, and porn servers.

    I prefer the ability to have complete control over servers holding my data, they prefer to have complete control over the servers on their network. It is a difference of opinion, but if you have a friend (or a friendly server) outside of any firewall, you can forward ports and bypass the firewalls.

    It all boils down to LIABILITY, the Universities do not like to have the risk of lawsuit.
  • There is a superficially easy way to stop Napster from eating all of a University's bandwidth. Basically, someone at the University (or maybe a script) should send emails to anyone hosting copyrighted material on Napster and tell them to delete it or face temporary termination of their connection. A student can't complain, because they _are_ breaking the law. This way, not everyone is punished for what only some people do.

    Granted, this would be a large task and would only cover the serving half, not the client half. Does anyone know where the bulk of the bandwidth is eaten up? I would guess that serving content uses more bits.
  • Here at Cornell University we pay over $80 a semester for access to the Campus Network

    If you are actually paying a fee to access the campus network then they are acting as your ISP and should have no rights to tell you how to use your connection. If the fee is actually a technology fee then things change, because you are paying a fee to help pay for the technology on campus and not for internet service.

  • I'm a resnet admin at my school (I have to go lecture people about being bw hogs when they hit multiple gigs of uploads to off-campus in a day, so I'm familiar with how 90% of schools cut off access to programs like napster, hotline, etc: block the port. Seriously. Anyone with the smallest understanding of how a computer works can change the default port in the prog, and more problem.

    In the case of things like napster, this is a good thing(TM) People who can get around the block anyways know better than to open up gigs and gigs of mp3's to other people on fast connections and expect them to play fair. Blocking the port protects the lusers who think that hitting the x in the corner shuts napster down; seriously, I've had to talk to about 300 people this year about bandwidth issues, and 280 of them have been people who didn't even know other people were getting files off of napster thru their comp..........
  • If the trade of pirated/illegal MP3's is so rampant on a college campus, why not monitor the traffic, collect data, and then bust the offenders? You do this enough times, and people will start to realize they are being watched and will be caught.

    Effort. It takes a lot more effort. It's simple enough just to add a line into a portblocking table to stop it. And you'd have to monitor continuously, keep the tools uptodate with the protocol, and if you slack off, word would get around and mp3 trade would start again. These are students we're talking about :-)
  • It's the university's bandwidth, they can say what does and doesn't pass through it. Personally, I feel the same way to "censoring" things in libraries. It's the library's computers, they can say what you read or don't read on it, the only problem here is the censorware's blacklist, and it being abused
  • > it's forced on the libraries by local government.

    Thats sort of what I meant by the blacklist being abused.

    I don't think a library "a common carrier of information". I think what a library is, is a place where you can get information on something. I can't, for example, get playboy or Hardcore Dutch Teens in my local library, I don't think I should be able to access certain websites from my library either. But again, this comes down to publicly reviewable blacklists, to make sure the censorware isn't being abused.
  • You are correct... any traffic from an I2 institution will take an I2 route to download from another I2 locale before it bothers trying anything else, regardless of what information it may be...

    It makes for a sweet network install off of certain .edu sites :o)

  • QoS is easy to implement for upstream, but difficult for downstream. In short, you must work with your ISP to get it done and load down their equipment. Most ISPs aren't going to be friendly to that, and will likely charge you more. It is easier to just block ports.

    For downstream, QoS on your router doesn't mean anything because the traffic has already choked down your pipe before you would make the "what is more important" decision. Therefore, the ISP has to do QoS and prioritize packets before sending them to you.

    In a perfect world, QoS would solve everything, but I don't think you will find too many ISPs and backbone providers willing to implement it. Perhaps that perfect world will exist in the future, but not today.

  • The fundamental problem of bandwidth abuse (and it is abuse; some are taking up more than their fair share) is that the current network regime follows a catch-as-catch-can economic model: you get the bandwidth you ask for, if someone hasn't gotten there first. The problem is, of course, that there is not enough bandwidth for everyone to use. Fortunately, there already exists a mechanism for the fair allocations of resources: make people pay for their usage.

    I am not aware of very many network architectures which allow this, but it is necessary. Charge whatever is necessary per megabyte to fund network services. Those who use the system more will pay more; that it more than fair.

    I can pretty much guarantee that a penny a megabyte would prevent most students from wasting; a gigabyte a day would be $10; that's a lot of money to a student. But if the student wishes to spend that much, then he has every right to.

    We have right now the 'tragedy of the commons'; the solution is well-known. We need to implement that solution.

  • Almost all games that let you specify what type of connection you have will adapt the amount of data they are willing to send. Usually it's a matter of adding additional gamestate updates.
  • The whole problem is that in the past few years the bandwidth available to universities has been increasing rapidly. Internet2 has spurred this to an all time high. However, since the standard pricing model is based on the bandwidth used these same universities are now throwing up their hands saying "We can't pay for what we have". There are really only a few options to universities that are having their bandwidth consumed by it's users:
    1. Block sites that require heavy bandwidth, as has been done recently by universities dealing with napster, ipad, etc.
    2. Continue to pay the bills regardless of what is used and proclaim that students (and staff!) should have absolute freedom. Most likely this will result in higher tuition charges to cover the cost.
    3. Start charging each student on a per byte basis for the bandwidth they use.
    I'm betting that #3 will win in the long run. It's the only fair solution when you break it down, as it charges the people that use it. As unfair as it seems to the people that want to use the most bandwidth, it simply puts the charges on the people that use it. Option #2 is certainly the way it should be, but if the cost is spread out to the students that aren't making use of it then its not really fair to them. What we need is free bandwidth, and since that'll never happen we're stuck with charging someone. The only sensible solution is to charge the people that are using the bandwidth. However, the biggest problem with this is that universities are not set up to handle this kind of recharge service. There is a whole new wave of infrastructure that is required to put a per-byte pricing model in place, and it doesn't exist in most places yet. Until it does, I'm sure more and ore universities will be implementing #1 since their budgets just aren't prepared for the bills their getting charged with.
  • A university connects to another university and this to all the universities in US which in turn connect to the universities in EU and to .gov and so on. This is the internet. You do not PAY for this, you PAY when nobody will give you a link and you need a provider (ISP).

    Pardon me all to hell, but who do you think provides the actual, physical lines between institutions? the TCP/IP fairy? they sprouted up on their own?

    Here's a clue: they're called Sprint. MCI. Ameritech. UUNet. Even AT&T.


    James -- the TCP/IP fairy needs to get his DSL gang out to my house, the slacker!

  • If I own a CD, I can do anything I please with it, short of redistributing the music. This includes ripping the tracks off of the CD, encoding them as MP3s, and storing them on my hard drive. I can also take them, burn them onto a data CD-R, and bring them with me to work. For example, if I've got eight Def Leppard albums, I can rip them, encode the songs as MP3, and make a single data CD that has all eight albums in MP3 form. I can then take that CD to work, fire up X11Amp, and not hear a single song repeated all day. I can also take those MP3s, decode them, and burn them to an audio CD that I can use in my car or home stereo. This lets me re-arrange the order of songs on a CD, or put together a CD of my favorite tunes.

    I can do all of this. All of this is legal, provided I own the CDs that are the source material for the MP3s. It is no different than recording a CD onto a cassette tape so that you can listen to it in an old Walkman. You have the right to "fair use" of the material. So I say again, there is nothing illegal about "ripping MP3s." Furthermore, "ripping MP3s" is all done locally, and doesn't use a single bit of a college network's available bandwidth.

    The legal issues are about distributing MP3s, not creating them. Don't fall into the trap that the RIAA is trying to cleverly lay out. MP3 is not an "illegal format." It is not illegal to create, own, or use MP3-formatted music files. It is illegal to distribute those files to parties who do not legally own the source CD, which is what real beef with Napster is all about. So try not to confuse the issue here.
  • Well now isn't this funny. If the university points out that pirating MP3s is illegal, and that people should stop it because they're chewing up bandwidth its ok. But God help the RIAA when they point out that just maybe pirating MP3s is illegal, and that maybe universities should ban Napster.

    The problem with the RIAA's stance is not only do they want to stop the trading of copyright MP3's, but they want to destroy MP3 as an audio file format altogether.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • Although I'm a big user of Napster, I have to agree here. Napster is a tool to help people perform illegal acts. Yes, it could theoretically be used to transfer legal MP3s, but it isn't and that's the bottom line.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • All arguments aside about private vs. public colleges: I attended the U of Missouri and we did in fact pay $20 a month for ethernet access which came to around $9600 a month that a dorm would pay for something like ResNet. This most certainly facilitates the kind of bandwidth that the students would be using up with programs like Napster.

    I hate to say this; but $9600/month is not nearly enough to service the bandwidth needs of 480 folks, even if only 20% are running Napster, IMHO. It's still subsidised. You have to factor in infrastructure cost, support costs and the like to come up with a true value. I don't know what kind of equipment or speed links are being used across that campus. I would say that $20 is a bargin, even if Napster is blocked.
  • I live in a dorm at Ohio University (I stay in the dorm partly because of the high-speed internet connection). This year, every freshman was given a computer by the University, and all year the network has been incredibly slow (I frequently couldn't tell if it was even up). Naturally, I blamed the freshmen. One day, all the speed and reliability I was used to came back. Why? Were the routers finally upgraded to handle the increased load brought on by the freshmen computers? Were the buggy DHCP servers fixed? No. I found out about a week later that the Napster metaserver's IP had been blocked. This is not in any way a free speech issue: I want to be able to read my email, and now I can.
  • Unless you're big on privacy... through the web person search, you could get not only the person's on-campus address and phone#, but their home phone and address! Not information that should be publicly available in most cases, especially whe someone takes the time to not have their number listed.. and home address? People shouldn't be getting that if you have a campus address defined... I think the phone numbers myay be gone now (I sent off a few e-mails, and alerted several students there), but the home address still remains...

    Rutgers as also been very slow getting networking into the majority of the res halls... many were still running through an over-clogged dialup last year (can't say this year - I don't visit anymore). Napster + dialup = pain, no matter what 8^)
  • Officially, we're only supposed to use the network for academic stuff (I think). In practive, network services lets you run whatever you want. There is no proxy, no firewall, just a pipe to the backbone.

    In recent months napster traffic has become a significant portion of the residence hall internet traffic and is getting too expensive for Network Services. A few weeks ago Network Services instituted a 15 megabit/s cap on dorm internet traffic. The rest of the campus is unaffected. No services are blocked. Everything is just slower.

  • Take a look at []

    You can see right when the pulled the plug on napster. At least the network is blazingly fast now.

    That's funny... My girlfriend lives on the uri campus. I just talked to her on ICQ and she's using Napster right now with no problems... Maybe they're limiting the bandwidth it uses for now, but they don't seem to have completely cut access.
  • Ahh... you sweet gullible frosh.

    Drexel won't do a damn thing until they're pressured again. A friend of mine was caught running an ftp server last year: his mistake: 10 user, anonymous, public, leech, and no bandwidth restrictions. And you know how they caught him? Someone found the server, and alerted the admins. Go search on the LAN. Every computer has an mp3 folder, and 99% of them are password restricted. Fortunately, unless they've got some pretty good people working in IRT, those passwords aren't going to be cracked any time soon. I've ran a semi-public leech ftp server for the entire year, and noone's been able to notice it. My bandwidth usage has been near zero on the server during most times of the day, so I doubt they'll really scan my computer for an ftp port. Even if they do, I have their ip's on my banlist. :) Sure, they'll ban napster, but there will be workarounds as soon as it's done. And I, for one, will be glad when that happens. All the dumb people running napster and letting it run 24/7 won't be able to figure out the work needed to get napster to run, and will free up bandwidth for the rest of us.

    .sig Instructions
    step one: place .sig here
  • ...from the list. The College of New Jersey complies with "The Digital Millenium Copyright Act" []

    Ah, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, Scourge of Liberty and Friend to the Tyrant.

    We really must get this damnéd thing repealed.

    Of course, if you are in New Jersey, you should go to my old Alma Mater, Rutgers, anyway (where I got my B.A. in English). I think they have a more liberal use policy, here it is e-use-guide.html []

  • I am in charge of the network at a university.We are forced into the position where we have to remove services because we just cannot get enough bandwidth for accademic purposes, let alone entertainment purposes.
    For this reason there are various services which to my mind are quite important, which we find ourselves in no position to offer to students.
    We are stuck in the middle on this problem and it's a situation we just can't win. If we dissallow the services we are censorious fascists. and if we allow these services, then it's our fault that network performance is abysmal. (that's not to mention members of staff downloading several, hundred megabyte files, at times of peak load and wondering why the service falls apart.)
  • wow, is someone a little bitter with (more than) a little misdirected anger. I don't think that I should be wasting my tax dollars on your anger management class. It obviously isn't working out.

    I hate those people (like the parent to this post)who are always on the outside looking in. They are the ones that always have an opinion and a loud voice and they think that it matters. If you think that all of your tax money that goes to universities is being spent on some 18 year olds mp3 habit, then you need to look at the financial plans of universities. You will probably find that your subsidized mp3 money is just a drop in the bucket of the university's anual budget. If that is the biggest issue that you have and this is the best case that you have against money being spent on universities then you need to look again.

    I have moderations points, but I felt that it would be more effective to reply to this than to simply mark it down like most moderators would do. I disagree with you 100%. Your approach sucks, and your language is deplorable at best. If you have a point to make - then articulate it. Telling someone to go fsck themselves because you disagree with them is about as mature as saying "Im rubber you're glue...." I encourage you to try again and reply to this post in a mature and vocal manner.

  • Need I say more? ANYONE who can write an article complaining about excessive bandwidth use and points to ICQ has NO CLUE what they're talking about.

    Oh, and according to ipchains, I use about 20-50mb of off-campus bandwidth on the typical day, sometimes going up to a gigabyte once or twice a month with cd or other big downloads.

    Overall, while I do use hellacious amounts of on-campus bandwidth (usually remote x-sessions), up to a gigabyte a day, for most of the days of a month a modem could handle what I use for off-campus stuff.
  • At my (UK) University they banned Napster a little while ago. We also have a transparent web proxy/cache (ie: you are forced to use it). The main reason for these measures are two fold. Firstly, to try to reduce the increasing network congestion. Secondly, to cut costs - as has already been mentioned on this thread, UK univserities now get charged per Mb of incoming traffic on the transatlantic lines.

    So, I personally think the action they have taken so far is fair enough. The amount of bandwidth Napster takes up is silly - and it's easy to block. Most of the MP3s people will be obtaining are almost certainly illegal, so I don't see it as any infringement of my rights. Also, it is the Univeristy's network and supposed to be for academic use. I don't pay anything for it, so I'm hardly in a position to complain.

    However, the Computing Services staff here seem obsessed with stopping any tiny thing they can. They are currently planning to block the IP ports that are commonly used by games (they recently did a test of blocking the Halflife mod Counterstrike's port). Now this strikes me as very odd. Most online games do not generate a huge amount of traffic (obviously a reasonable amount if you're running a server, but that's not the issue here). Most importantly, non of this traffic is going to go to the US and so incur a charge. With FPS games, ping is all important - there's no way you'd catch me even trying to play QuakeWorld or Quake3 on US servers. I want the one nearest to me (ie: lowest ping) - so the packets I create are going very far. Sure, some games (eg: Everquest) might be played on US servers when there are no European alternatives, but they seem to be taking a general "games are the cause of our network problems" attitude.

    Maybe you're thinking that I'm being uptight cos I can't play these silly violent games? Maybe you're right. The point is though, that whilst I am using an academic network for pure personal enjoyment... game playing is not the thing to target. They are not going to be as draconian as to say that all non acamedic activities are banned. Why would they have plans to ethernet all University accomodation ASAP if that were the case? Very few people (I would say 0 - at least for access to things outside the University) have a real need for a 10Mbit ethernet connection. No-one's going to stop people from looking up train times during lunch for when they pop home the next weekend are they?

    So something needs to be done, and if it isn't blocking games, what should it be? Well, how amount monitoring traffic and identifying high bandwidth users. If someone is running an illegal warez server, and they're asked what exactly is causing 3Gb of data to be transfered a day, they're going to shut it down pretty quickly. Perhaps even instigating a charge for people who do use large amounts of bandwidth (on legitimate things) - that would discourage frivolous use, and stop people grabbing some VCD from the US every week. Even enouraging people to not use hotmail accounts (we get charged for US access remember - and pages there obviously can't be cached!), but rather UK based alternatives, seems to me to be a far more sensible stratedgy, not just in terms of keeping students happy, but actually effective in reducing our bandwidth consumption, and our network costs.

  • But the fact of the matter is that it is not. I will challenge anyone to show me that even 1% of the MP3's available on Napster are not copyrighted.

    I'm sure you're entirely correct in saying 99% of the songs on Napster are copyrighted, but (the way I understand it) just because I download an mp3 of a copyrighted song doesn't mean it's illegal.

    Since I've gone to college, I've used mp3's for listening to music probably 98% of the time. A lot of those mp3's were obtained from Napster (that is, until it was shut down here). OK, now I will freely admit that I do not own an original copy of many of the songs that I've downloaded. In that respect, yes, I have broken the law and infringed upon the artists' copyrights. I do not wish to misrepresent myself on this matter. However, I have also used Napster legitimately so that I might be able to listen to a cd that I own, but I didn't bring with me.

    Since I brought to college maybe three of my 200 or so cd's, I would estimate that... hmm, probably 60% of my mp3's are of songs that I own. Whether I rip them myself, get them from, or download them from Napster, it is within my rights and the bounds of the law. If a college wants to shut it down on grounds of bandwidth concerns, that's fine. Do whatever you need to do. However, for a college to justify a blocking Napster because it's a tool of piracy, or the devil's work, or whatever... That's a misrepresentation.
  • by The Man ( 684 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @08:50AM (#1235790) Homepage
    I'm a student and systems administrator at a state university. I'm not absolutely certain whether we block Napster (I think we may have just started doing so) but if we haven't I sure wish we would. We don't block DeCSS or anything else really, though some types of connections (streaming media in particular) are rate-limited. Let me tell you first that is anything but censorship. As has been pointed out by the network admin, many uses for streaming media are more than legitimate, but we just simply don't have the bandwidth. There are three T1s to the world at our site, to serve something like 12000 students and hundreds of faculty and staff.

    Censorship is restricting certain types of content only within a medium for some sort of political or moral goal. I don't believe that the university has any objection to students receiving any certain type of content (the AUP simply specifies that usage should be for educational purposes - I'll get to what this means in a bit). But regardless of the content, as the head admin says, "network bandwidth is a very limited resource." And I wholeheartedly agree to any measures he takes to help relieve the congestion, especially if it impacts only services, like Napster, that cannot possibly be considered to have legitimate educational purposes.

    Yes, that's right, educational purposes. That's what university networks are supposed to be for. And I believe in a broad definition of "educational" that includes things like hosting Free Software projects, receiving and playing (non-stolen) music files, and even reading Slashdot. Most organizations, especially for-profit ones, do not even allow these activities because they do not contribute to that organization's mission. You should be thankful that most universities liberally interpret the boundaries of their missions and do not require you to pay for your own bandwidth to use these and other services.

    Another issue to consider is that, in a badly oversubscribed environment like ours (100% usage from 8am to 6pm), every byte you get is a byte someone else won't. In a lot of cases, that someone else is trying to do real research, or as in my case, get security fixes and other data crucial to my job as a systems administrator. The conscientious individual recognizes this and self-imposes limits to his network use during congested times. After-hours, in fact, most limits are removed and students and faculty are allowed even freer use of the network. As I've been saying, these restrictions and limits are placed so that everyone has a fair shot at using the network. It would be nice if people would further limit their usage to truly educational material during the day; if they did then restrictions would not even be necessary. Until that happens (ha!) we'll continue to restrict and/or rate-limit certain services.

    Unfortunately, decisions must be made as to exactly which services must be limited or cut off, and in general I feel that Napster is an example of a service with no real educational value and high bandwidth usage. Thus it is a good candidate for restriction. Perhaps you disagree, but then it would be your responsibility to decide what else must be limited or cut. Obviously items like DeCSS are not cut for these reasons, and I vehemently disagree with that practice. Ditto for cutting internet long-distance just to prevent competition. There are lots of bad reasons to restrict network usage, but I've yet to see anyone around here bringing them up and I suspect that in most places, decisions are being made for valid reasons, not censorship or to stifle competition. Here we are talking about bandwidth usage, and something has to go. I'm glad it's Napster and not FTP or HTTP. Certainly these protocols can be abused as well, but they are also frequently used for purposes directly related to the stated goals of the university. Think about it. If not Napster, then what?


  • by slim ( 1652 ) <john@hartnup . n et> on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:12AM (#1235791) Homepage
    When I was at Uni, I got into some moderate trouble for mailing on a copy of the 1000 question Purity Test to a few friends. I didn't object: those computers, that network infrastructure, they were paid for so that we (the students) could use them for education -- not so we could exchange lighthearted smut.

    When MP3s flying around the network start to affect people's ability to get real work done -- both by students and researchers -- I think it's entirely within the rights of the admins to restrict the use of things like Napster. Buy your own T1.

  • by Tack ( 4642 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:20AM (#1235792) Homepage
    My job is system and network administration on the campus of a local university. I would be the one to recommend to my boss about these types of policies (and ultimately I think the final say would be mine).

    Personally, I feel that this _is_ a matter of censorship. Furthermore, banning sites and blocking ports is a futile attempt. Students are resourceful. They will find some way around it (proxies, say), or someone else who knows. Once one student knows a way around it, the whole campus knows.

    Recently our uplink set a packet filter blocking all packats to I lobbied against this, and stressed that this wasn't a solution to the problem. Blocking content _is_ censorship. While I am sympathetic to the problem, censoring people is simply wrong. The filter was dropped a few days later; I hope my arguments had a hand in persuading them. :)

    I currently impose bandwidth throttling on the interface that connects to our campus residence. This seems to work reasonably well and I would recommend this to any network admin over packet filtering.

  • by Mandi Walls ( 6721 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @07:51AM (#1235793) Homepage Journal
    Something I looked into last year, as an admin at my school, was computer usage, and where it was likely to go. There were some concerns such as planning for a bigger pipe, which IS freaking expensive (go buy your own) and often has to include hours of research and talking to idiot salespeople at ISPs. Our other concern was the shear number of students bringing computers to campus.

    In 1994, it was rare for students to take computers to campus. For most schools, this was the dawning of the connected era, when they were thinking about the procurement process for full scale fiber ethernet networks. Some schools wrote grant applications, begged alums, asked the state govt, raised tuition to pay for their "pipe dreams".

    So, for a few years, in most cases, the bandwidth that was planned in the mid 90's has held out. But in the past two years, hardware prices have fallen through the floor, and evry kid wants to bring his or her computer to school.

    At my school last spring, when I sat down to look, less than 5% of seniors had computers on the campus network (all computers have to be listed as students' usernames for easy ID). More than 70% of freshmen did. The explosive growth of end-user computing sent the computer from the realm of luxury item to the realm of more-important-than-a-tv.

    So the procurement process has to start again, admin staff trying to get money to upgrade the network, keep faculty in working machines, provide multimedia teaching facilities in classrooms, provide public use computers for students who don't bring computers, spend money selling the school through its website, and making sure CS students have access to labs that will allow them to actually learn something. Add to that the personnel cost of manning the network, admining accounts, going to meetings to get more money, and researching new tech for upgrades, and you've got a pretty hefty bill, even in cases where a lot of the grunt work is done by students. Not to mention that hefty chunks of 1999's budget probably went to Y2K upgrades.

    In short, bandwidth is a very expensive commodity for departments with short budgets, and students abusing it before the school can get what it needs deserve to be shut down. The angst-ridden middle class kid syndrome will whine to no end, though, thinking they were really paying what the resources are worth. Yeah, right.

    Of course, the faculty were more concerned with "what do you do with students who spend all their time on the net and no time working? They already recentered the SAT for them. Now what?" But that's for another day...


  • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @09:57AM (#1235794) Homepage
    I did this comment the last time the ugly beast showed its head a few weeks ago. I'll repeat it again:

    You can use QoS.

    Even if you cannot use it selectively (with Napster this requires sniffing the proto and configuring QoS filters realtime) use per net/per IP limits (aka per dorm). Or even better schedule the dorms to use ONLY leftovers from the rest of the campus. Over. Done. Whoever says it is impossible eat a gun. Been there. Done that

    Problem is elsewhere:

    • Most University admins knowledge goes as far as banning and not any further
    • Most Universities CS Depts are highly disinterested in developing/deploying new bandwidth control technologies. Reason is that they are not so "cool" and do not require so much money like WWW2. They actually save money. And their salaries are percent of the budget. Dropping the budjet. Dropping the spending... Forget it...
  • by Bad Mojo ( 12210 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:49AM (#1235795) Homepage
    Well, I know this is about as bad as censorship, but students need to be worn down. They need an oppressive network dictator lording over their every packet and destroying their fun. Otherwise how will they feel when they get into a job at a large company? They might be devistated. But that's how I would do it. Sure, take the easy way out. See if I care. ;)

    Bad Mojo
  • by cjs ( 12969 ) <> on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @07:27AM (#1235796) Homepage

    Just because you pay a fee for your connection does not mean they waive the right to determine how it may be used. If you don't like the fee, the conditions, or whatever else, you can always find an alternate method of connecting.

    Personally, I don't see what people are bitching about. $80/semester is a fantastic deal for high-speed acccess. My cablemodem costs me $240 per semester.


  • by humphrm ( 18130 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:28AM (#1235797) Homepage
    I agree with you on the Napster issue as well as just about every other point you make. I also don't believe that it's censorship more than it's trying to control bandwidth and legal exposure.

    One place that I do have a problem is when public schools make sweetheart deals with long-distance carriers in return for kickbacks. They force their students to use one carrier from their dorm rooms under the auspices of cheaper rates, when in fact they are taking some of the savings themselves. Now, don't get me wrong -- I think that public schools should try to save money (or generate it) wherever possible to save both the taxpayers and the students money.

    However, banning IP long distance phone calls is an active conflict of interest. It puts the school into a position of protecting their preferred long distance carrier's market by controlling their network.

    What I suggest is not that schools should give up controlling their networks, but that they should be more careful in choosing who they make exclusive agreements with, or if they should at all. These agreements with LD carriers put them in an exposed position and tie their hands when they want to later control network bandwidth, and they are just plain no good.

    In the last few years, it's almost been a free-for-all with schools making exclusive agreements with everyone from Microsoft to all the long distance carriers to Subway and even credit card companies. But these agreements come at a price that administrators don't yet realize: the integrity of their school's goal to provide education, not business relationships.
  • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @07:17AM (#1235798) Homepage Journal
    If schools resources are to be used only for "learning", then why are student activity fees collected at most universities, often for recreational services most students never use?

    And remember that universities are not usually strictly private profit-seeking entities. They are payed for by tuition and student fees, by charitable endowments, and by govenment money collected with taxes (even private schools receive federal funds for student programs and research).

    You claim it's not censorship when someone else owns the wire, but what happens when everybody who owns the wires won't let you talk? What's your recourse, build your own Internet?
  • I was partly responsible for QoS at a UK university, where things are worse because we have to pay 2 pence (4 cents??) per MB for all traffic received from the US (with a 56KBps video stream that adds up!) In the first year we left it open and made a HUGE loss. (We charged 30 pounds per year per student).

    It's a tough problem (obviously). The best solution we came up with was to use DummyNet under BSD or iproute2 under Linux to give each user their own allocation of bandwidth. When they run out, they can still use our proxy servers (which don't incur charges) or can buy more bandwidth for their allocation.

    IProute2 is actually excellent for this. It can do just as much as your average Cisco, much more easily: source-based routing, processing of packets based on arbitrary hexadecimal strings in them, and so-on. With a powerful enough CPU and two 3Com cards, we got a decent throughput too.

    We came up with a whole complex system with perl, Oracle, DBI, SNMP, shaper.o (no iproute2 in those days) and lots of other things - then ran out of time and money just as it was starting to work (though shaper.o wasn't very suited to the task). There just isn't enough money, at least in UK universities, to do this sort of thing.

    Instead each ethernet segment of 100+ users squeezes through a 20Kbps throttle. This is of course totally unfair, because 2% use more than the rest put together, but on the bright side traffic through our proxies is excluded from the throttling. It's a terrible solution but there isn't money for anything better. We don't have Cisco CPU capacity for selective QoS by protocol. Any suggestions welcome :-)

  • by deter ( 68461 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:30AM (#1235800)
    I work for core networking for the Univ. of Missouri and am a student who uses Napster.

    I understand the problem. I mean, several weeks ago one res-hall (250 students) was cranking out 35 MBit (all Napster/MP3). We have a 45MBit link to the Internet. We put a filter on the router just to count # of packets going to the Napster server - several hundred per second. That just to the server, NOT mp3 files going across the wire.

    I can understand turning it off. Although we started with the biggest offenders at first - that doesn't work. It's the large number of people using it - not several major offenders.

    So how to nail it? filter out anything to that class C - fine. That'll work temporarily. Proxy's are abundant. DNS it - they'll use external DNS servers. The only viable way I know of to really shut it down is possibly to shut off ICMP inbound. Although I'm going to try to write a filter that would nail the Napster protocol. Blocking ICMP would suck, but it would work. If anyone knows a better idea, please please let me know.

    Brent Deterding
    Univsity of Missouri - Columbia
    Data Network Planning & Support - Core Group
    Research Computing Group
    Grader - CECS 253 (UNIX)
  • by Plankeye ( 72603 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:49AM (#1235801)
    The most common practice by university admins to block student access to napster servers is by establishing a firewall (or modifying existing firewall to block napster). Unfortunately, this is also the most difficult method to bypass. Essentially this firewall looks for all information going to * and stops it. The only way to continue to access napster servers is to "bounce" off another site (that you can connect) to, to napster. This can be achieved using various 'proxy' software. 1) Someone who is offsite from your university needs to download and install a socks4/5 compatible proxy server, configure it correctly and then give you the information. 2) You will put this information in the section where napster asks if you go through a socks proxy/firewall. This will tell napster to first establish a connection with that server and then go to Then you will be able to connect to napster's servers. Also, a good thing to remember - you're going to want to bounce off someone with a decent connection to the internet. Although almost all traffic is peerpeer - napster still talks to you for queries. The peerpeer connections will be established seperately. Another fairly common method to prevent students from accessing * is to remove the dns entry for Every computer needs a dns server to resolve IPs ( to hostnames ( Your school (or ISP) provides this DNS (domain name server) for you to use. The school could change their dns entry of, which is the host that the client looks for, to something else (a school warning page) -- or remove it entirely. Fortunately it's very easy to bypass this method. Unlike the firewall, we can do one of two simple things. 1) Simply insert a different DNS server into your configuration. This will then have your computer point to a different nameserver instead of pointing to your school's. Other nameservers won't have blocked napster because they have no reason to do so. 2) Edit your 'c:\windows\hosts' file. This file allows you to put an IP and what host it should resolve to, thus bypassing the need to have the dns server look it up for you. This is perhaps the best option of the two, incase your school has special dns entries that another server won't have. sample: (c:\windows\hosts) #napster dns entry Note: You will have reboot for these settings to take effect. Also, if your school FIREWALLED napster, you will not be able to use this method. See Proxies section. (A good way to know you're firewalled, is to try to ping server.napster .com, then when it doesn't work ping If the second way (ip) works - you're not firewalled. You just need a dns entry).
  • by Oscarfish ( 85437 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:14AM (#1235802) Homepage
    This is an excerpt from the most recent Information Technology e-mail newsletter, where the helpdesk people try to tell us there's nothing wrong with the Novell network here (it's slower than a 33.6 line from lunch to dinner):

    • New Stuff

      Napster and other bandwidth hogging programs can cause slow Internet connections for everyone

      The Chronicle of Higher Education published the following article in the issue dated February 25, 2000. Salisbury State University is facing similar bandwidth issues with the proliferation of Napster and similar programs, plus other bandwidth stealing applications such as Spinner, Real Player, WinAmp (when used to receive Shoutcast Stations) and Instant Messenger programs such as AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Instant Messenger, and ICQ. As a consideration, please be aware that using these programs during peak hours (usually 9 AM to 9 PM) causes the network to slow significantly, so please try to limit your use of these programs (especially the Napster-like programs and the streaming audio programs like Spinner, etc) to non-peak hours. In this way, we can ensure that the Internet is available at an acceptable level of speed to everyone that needs it.

      "Napster, a tool for finding MP3 audio files online, is causing headaches among network administrators -- not because of its potential for copyright infringement, but because when students use it en masse they can clog even high-bandwidth campus Internet connections.

      A growing number of universities have responded to the resulting congestion by cutting off the software's access to the Internet.

      The program runs on personal computers and allows a user to share his or her collection of MP3 files. MP3's on users' hard drives are made available for both searches and downloads over the Internet by anyone else who runs the program. At peak times, this network of Napster users can offer access to several hundred gigabytes of data, or hundreds of thousands of individual files.

      At any given time, each user can be sending and receiving dozens of files. Multiply that by hundreds of students on one campus, and the consequence can be a serious traffic jam.

      "We found that, on average, that particular program was using 10 to 40 percent of our campus Internet bandwidth," says Marjorie F. Proell, communications director for Saint Cloud State University, in Minnesota. "There were times it peaked even at 60 percent."

      Such high traffic can slow down everyone else's use of the Internet, whether for surfing, for transferring scholarly journal articles, or even just for sending mail. "It was reducing the speed and reliability of our Internet services, which is something that's felt by everyone on campus --students, staff, and faculty," says Ms. Proell. In October, network engineers at Oregon State University noticed increased Internet traffic, which they traced to Napster. "It was using 5 percent of O.S.U.'s total bandwidth going out of the university," says Christopher White, the administrator for the university's residential network. That percentage "doesn't sound like a lot, but it is -- a real, real lot," he says. By November, Napster was using up 10 percent of the bandwidth.

      At first, administrators responded by calling students who were using the program and telling them that such bandwidth-hogging programs violated the university's policies on acceptable use of the network. But when it became clear that hundreds of students were using the program, officials decided to block the network channel that carries Napster traffic.

      "If we had let it go much longer, I think we definitely would have had serious problems," says Mr. White.

      Other institutions have reported similar traffic problems. Institutions that have reportedly banned the program include Boston, North Carolina State, and Northwestern Universities, and the Universities of New Hampshire, Pittsburgh, and Texas. Institutions don't just face slow Web connections as a result of Napster -- they can face significant Internet access costs as well. According to Curtis R. Pederson, Oregon State's vice provost for information services, Napster was costing the university about $1,500 per month at the time it was shut off.

      The university normally spends $12,000 to $15,000 a month for Internet access. Mr. Pederson says the university is planning to hold a forum with students to talk about "Internet use and ethics, and the reality of the budget." Other institutions have had similar meetings.

      Administrators who have blocked access to Napster say that bandwidth is their main concern, rather than the continuing controversy over MP3 files, which are often used to illegally transmit copyrighted music. The Recording Industry Association of America is pursuing a lawsuit against the makers of Napster because of the ease with which the program lets users share pirated music.

      The association also regularly requests that colleges shut down online archives of illegal MP3's on campus networks and has created an educational campaign intended to teach students about copyright law.

      Oregon State's Mr. White says the decision to block the program was definitely made easier by Napster's illicit uses. "If it was a program that had real educational value to it, it probably would have been a lot harder," he says. But, he adds, "we wouldn't have even noticed it if it wasn't for the bandwidth issue."

    BTW, I received this mail from my school account - one "powered" by Groupwise [] - but that's all I use that account for, because it's literally down as much as it is up. But I guess that's another story...

  • by Mordred ( 104619 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:19AM (#1235803) Homepage
    I'm sorry but colleges should be allowed to do what they want with their bandwidth. Yeah, if I were in college and they banned napster I'd be pissed off. Would I understand the university's reasoning? Yes.

    Three years ago when I lived on campus, I ran an mp3 FTP site. It was pretty popular for the few months it was public and I was able to serve about 100 gigs worth of stuff. I decided to cut back because the University did monitor that stuff and basically it's their bandwidth.

    There is the arguement that you have to pay Computer Access fees. At Texas A&M where I went to school, that was all of $50 a semester. I pay that in one month for cable service. I don't really see how I can then justify saying that I pay $50 a semester I should be able to use all the bandwidth I want. My cable company asked me to stop running an FTP after 3 days and 1 gig served.

    The thing is if your actions are negatively impacting other people, (and high bandwidth usage does!) then you have no right to complain if someone asks you to stop. Yeah it's fun to complain, but grow up people. Don't take it all so seriously.


  • by luckykaa ( 134517 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:41AM (#1235804)
    I have no objection to the college banning me from using Napster (Or wouldn't have if I was still there). It is after all THEIR network. What would worry me is that someone was looking at what I was downloading.
  • by ( 142825 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:31AM (#1235805) Homepage
    Does this mean that if 100% of the bandwidth is not used you get a credit?

    Can't load limits be implemented?

  • by kovacsp ( 113 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @07:01AM (#1235806) Homepage

    Take a look at []

    You can see right when the pulled the plug on napster. At least the network is blazingly fast now.

  • by Amphigory ( 2375 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:16AM (#1235807) Homepage
    You've got to remember what the University installs these networks for: learning. Not copyright infringement, and not telephone calls.

    WRT napster: I am well aware that it could be used for the transfer of non-copyrighted MP3's. But the fact of the matter is that it is not. I will challenge anyone to show me that even 1% of the MP3's available on Napster are not copyrighted. And this thing is using 20% of the bandwidth on a lot of campuses! If students in fact own the CD's, why can't they just rip their own copies?

    So don't talk to me about Napster. As for DialPad: that is also a purely economic decision in most cases. Yeah, it only eats about 20K/sec. But remember that's 20K/sec for hours on end. It adds up.

    To call these censorship is to abuse the term censorship. Nobody is preventing you from saying ANYTHING! They are just choosing not to pay for you to say it! There's nothing stopping you from going out and getting your own ISP.

    I'm sure many of you will claim that "this is just the start of censorhip" and "a little bit of censorship is like being a little bit pregnant". Here's the thing you've got to remember: when you cry "censorship" over petty stuff like this, you will not be able to get my attention when there really is censorship. For example, the DeCSS stuff is quite disturbing from a free speech point of view. But by hassling with, you are losing credibility for that battle.

    Never cry wolf.


  • by Rupert ( 28001 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:24AM (#1235808) Homepage Journal
    Napster itself is legality-neutral (like almost all tools). Since today there is no way to distinguish between an illegal and a legal MP3, Napster can't be held responsible if people choose to use it to share the former as well as the latter.

    OTOH Napster is a worse bandwidth hog than W2K's Active Directory. Both should be banned.
  • by Rasvar ( 35511 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:09AM (#1235809)
    Napster is pain in the butt and a bandwidth hog. If that is the real reason it is being blocked, I consider that a legit reason. Bandwidth is a finite item, even at universities. Yes, you can say that your dollars are paying for it. I would argue, if you want to say that, that there is a finite amount of bandwidth that you have paid for and after you have used it, your service is cut or you can pay for more. It is not cheap to throw in additional internet links. The end user has to be responsible in their usage.

    Now on the censorship side, that is just not acceptable and should not be tolerated. Bandwidth mangement is one thing. Censoring is never the right reason.
  • by Plankeye ( 72603 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:14AM (#1235810)
    How exactly could you ban Napster? I know you can use the "You are not allowed to run Napster" rule, but how does a university physically block the access? By blocking the ports? Looks like Napster could just work it's way around that with every beta release. I have heard on /. of universities blocking Napster and the next release working anyway.

    Will this just be a never-ending war?

  • by OctaneZ ( 73357 ) <ben-slashdot2@uma. l i t e c> on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:12AM (#1235811) Journal
    Here at Cornell University we pay over $80 a semester for access to the Campus Network, it is in fact a money making endevour for them. There have been threats of crack downs on programs like Napster and sites like DialPad, but nothing yet. As I also work for the campus computing center running the email system, I know that we in fact do not have a bandwidth problem, however that is an easy excuse for them. If they want to make reduce access, fine, I don't agree with it, however they do then need to stop charging students. I am sure this is similar to other campuses as well. If your campus does do this the first thing you should do is change all the default ports on things like Napster (they block the port not the protocol) and look into proxys []
  • To call these censorship is to abuse the term censorship. Nobody is preventing you from saying ANYTHING! They are just choosing not to pay for you to say it! There's nothing stopping you from going out and getting your own ISP.

    I don't think I'm nitpicking if I point out that many universities make it nearly impossible to do this. If they don't forbid outside ISPs directly, many universities have residency requirements, and follow those with (in addition to the highest rent possible) the most stringent rules about the housing that you'll find, effectively preventing anything but dial-up access. One university I was associated with had a PBX set up in their dorms that was strange enough that it wouldn't talk to a normal phone, much less a modem.

    They have reasons for these rules, and there are reasons for service restrictions, but the two together are fairly procrustean. Not that they're out of their rights to do so. But I think students always have the right to be outraged at the restrictions placed on them by administration. Part of the Student Experience tm.

  • by Lord Omlette ( 124579 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:08AM (#1235813) Homepage
    I wouldn't mind if my College (Snevets Institute of Technology) would ban Napster... Trying to do work that involves the Net is now close to impossible since the network is almost always completely clogged...

    If it was up to me, I'd throw in another connection or something and limit Napster to a few machines or something. I dunno, I just feel frustrated that our 'state-of-the-art' network doesn't work for jack when 200 people are using Napster simultaneously.

    Eh, I'll shut up now
    Lord Omlette
    AOL IM: jeanlucpikachu
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:38AM (#1235814)
    Somebody in a post elsewhere (attached to this story) mentioned QoS, prioritizing packets along the lines of:

    1. everything not mentioned below
    2. web
    3. internet telephony
    4. Napster

    If there's leftover bandwidth, Napster gets it (hopefully preventing people from getting deperate enough to go to lengths to circumvent the measures). And if somebody else needs bandwidth, they get it. E-Z.
  • by Frater 219 ( 1455 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @08:36AM (#1235815) Journal
    I'm the primary network administrator for a small college with a ridiculously limited Internet connection. We have ~350 students and 10Mbps Ethernet to all dorm rooms, but we only have a 512Kbps uplink at the moment. As a result, our users often end up contending for time on a rather congested link.

    The three or four warez d00dz who think they have to have a dozen MP3s or VCDs downloading at all times don't help. A few months ago we had one or two twits using up well in excess of 50% of our bandwidth, moving traffic we all knew perfectly well was bootlegged media. But we really see this as an excessive-use problem, not a bootlegging problem -- so we put a 200MB/day cap on usage. As soon as any user machine on our network has moved 200MB over the Internet link in one day, it is unceremoniously blocked off until 3AM the next morning. There is a "free period" from 3AM to 6AM during which people may download all they want without limit; also, we grant exceptions for academic use, such as when someone wants to download a new distro CD image. (The funny thing is that the really heavy users don't use the 3AM-6AM window, even though there's plenty of scheduled-download software out there. They just hit 200MB and get blocked -- just about every day.)

    We do, actually, have a policy against bootlegging software, music, movies, and the like -- but I'll be the first to admit that's a CYA move, so if RIAA or the like come attack us, we can say we don't tolerate bootlegging. We don't go looking for MP3 servers unless someone raises a fuss. We do block NetBIOS-over-TCP at the firewall, but that's all. (We're planning to block inbound SMTP directed to systems other than our mail server in the near future, but that's to stop spammers, not to limit our users.)

    Blocking services by port number is not a solution to excessive use, nor is it a solution to bootlegging or other "contrabandwidth". In a port-blocking situation, the serious abusers tunnel or otherwise route around the censorship; the regular users get stuck with bogus limits on their use; and we sysadmins have to play catch-up maintaining a list of blocked services. If congestion is the problem, ban excessive use, not controversial use.
  • by Uruk ( 4907 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:35AM (#1235816)
    Generally speaking, in terms of the way laws are written and upheld, the use of mp3s would be upheld because although it has illicit uses, it also has legitimate uses. Think of the music students on campus who download recorded music from sites that make it freely available to the public for study and just for regular enjoyment. I've also known students who tape lectures of classes and make them available for other students via mp3.

    Think about guns - guns are made to kill people. They are used in crimes every day all over the nation. But still, they are legal, because we recognize that they have legitimate uses. You can restrict the use of guns, and you might even reduce crime, (I don't actually believe that, but that's an entirely different story) but you'd be giving up a portion of your freedom to do that. Similarly, you can ban mp3s, and you may reduce the amount of IP theft, or lower your bandwidth utilization, but you're giving something up. Namely, the positive aspects of downloading mp3s, and also, the students freedom to be in an environment that allows them to expand themselves as they see fit, not as the university sees fit.

    I can kinda sympathize with the bandwidth argument, but I really hate it when people change things midstream. If you come onto the university network, and sign an agreement saying "by signing this you agree not to do x, y, or z" then you have a choice, and you can go elsewhere. On the other hand, if you invest in a NIC for your student network, and then have regulations piled on you never agreed to, that's different, because you weren't given a choice.

    It's their bandwidth, right? So they're completely justified in monitoring and restricting all traffic, including all your outgoing email and communication and logging them. That's just not fair, and it's somewhat absurd. They're fighting a losing battle anyway. If they ban napster, somebody will figure out how to run it on a differnent port, or will just move to another service.

  • by Jeff Ballard ( 25222 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:17AM (#1235817) Homepage
    There is a better way for universities to handle the situation. From their perspective its eating bandwith... but they can assign quality of service levels at their routers (and presumedly at their ISP routers as well) and then they could use all of their bandwidth.

    For instance, you can say the following:

    1. First, let all traffic not defined below go first (SMTP, NTP, etc) -- basically all non-classified traffic
    2. Then if theres bandwidth left over, all web traffic,
    3. Then if theres bandwidth left over, all IP telephony traffic,
    4. Then if theres bandwidth left over, all Napster traffic.
    (Insert other bandwidth hogging apps or reprioritize as necessary)

    Basically this is probably the best for all worlds, since then the Napster users can try to hammer the network all they want. They just will have their packets dropped first. This will allow them to actually use *ALL* of their network.

  • by stab ( 26928 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @06:08AM (#1235818) Homepage
    Well, Napster is clearly a software product that is used almost exclusively to pirate MP3s, it leeches up a lot of bandwidth, and has some pretty bad security holes that means that potentially the client can be forced to serve up any file to a malicious Napster server.

    What's wrong with universities banning it? Clearly, they cannot condone the flagrant ripping of MP3's on campus. I'm sure they'd do the same if they found 10000 warez sites running on their students' boxes.

    I'm not saying that censorship is a good thing, just that in this case I fail to see how this is construed as censorship, given that using the application for anything other than illegal activities is fairly hard. 5% of university bandwidth is a hell of a lot as well.
  • by mr.nobody ( 113509 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @07:19AM (#1235819)

    I wish Napster was only taking up 5% of our total bandwidth!

    Here at the college where I am a technician we've already had the first part of our firewall system installed to secure the campus and restrict the use of Napster. Our reason to kill Napster is the same one repeated many times in this forum--bandwidth. Currently, Napster is taking up about 25-30% of the sum total of our T1 line.

    It used to be a 3-to-1 ratio of incoming to outgoing traffic. 75% of the traffic came into the campus LAN and 25% (or less) went out. This year, that has all changed. As I write this our MRTG graph shows 150K+ going out and less than 100K comming in. At night its even worse (typical night: 50K+ out vs. ~10K in). On average we are split equally between traffic comming in and traffic going out.

    I probed and port scanned the network a couple weeks ago and found 30-40 people who were running a Napster server. Lets say each server allows 10-20 users. At peak that would mean 300-800 people are downloading large MP3 files. We have a student body of 1000. The math becomes a little frightening at this point.

    This is a college LAN, not a server farm.

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.