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Monday, 6 March, 2000, 11:39 GMT
University ban on downloading music: Your Reaction
BBC News Online asked if students should be banned from using university computers to download music files. Your Reaction
I am studying law at the University of Leeds. As part of a research project into the legal disputes regarding MP3.com and RIAA I have to have access the sites concerned. They're not just there to download music - they're there to inform and educate too - that's what University is about!! You cannot ban certain sites - it's a ban on free speech - simple as that.
Mitchell Evans, Leeds, UK
I work in the ITS department for a major Midwestern university which is facing the same issues debated in your article. My thoughts on this issue are that since MP3s are illegal, the University has every right to limit student access to such sites. Since students are allowed to download illegal music, I guess they should also be able to download child porn as well, if that reasoning holds true to both.
Kyle, United States
The answer is simple, open a cyber cafe on campus and charge an hourly rate. When the beer money versus music money decision looms, beer will prevail.
Mark Hirst, United Kingdom
Universities (in the UK at least) now have to pay for every megabyte of data crossing the Atlantic. Giving completely free student access to the Internet was possible (if slow) when I started Uni ten years ago, but it's just not viable in today's fully-accounted dotcom world. Talk of censorship makes for good soundbites but it ignores the fact that you can easily get low-cost access elsewhere without burdening universities' budgets or bandwidth. Free bandwidth at university is a privilege not a right. As any child learns, abuse of privilege quickly leads to it being curtailed or withdrawn until they learn to be more considerate.
Nick K, UK
I use Napster, and it's good. In an ideal world I wouldn't have to use it. In an ideal world I wouldn't be charged £15.99 for every CD that i want to buy. In an ideal world I wouldn't have had t wait 40 days to try and get a London After Midnight CD, from hmv.co.uk only to have my order cancelled In an ideal world I'd be able to get B-side tracks from bands that I like In an ideal world I wouldn't need napster
The Internet MP3 sites have been a great source of music for my projects involving Media Studies. Banning me from accessing them will prove pointless, as the college must reimburse me for any costs involved. Our college supports MP3's because of this.
Fizi Lund-Conlon, United Kingdon
Wow! That's a cool concept! My college doesn't even have the necessary bandwidth to download a proper Java applet, how much more an mp3?
Seriously though, mp3s should be downloaded at home...university internet services were made given for academic purposes, if it disturbs that, then downloading mp3s should be contained.
Danny van Ommen, Philippines
Why don't they restrict the access of music sites after a specified time when internet traffic will be low or does not hinder those accessing sites for academic purposes Easy. Think smarter not harder.
Alan Peart, England
The university that I am at has also decided to ban the Napster sight. I understand that bandwidth problems are the main reason for this ban. However the internet is a highly adaptive system and any ban can be got around. I have already reset Napster to allow it to work again.
I would suggest that the best thing that the universities can do is limit numbers or have some sort of charging system otherwise more and more people will learn how to get round the problem and there will be no way of the universities of stopping it!
Adrian Stuart, Scotland
One would hope that the parents of these students after spending so much money on University fees would like to think that their children have better things to do on the University's computer network than download music. What about education? Or is this no longer an issue. My employer restricts internet use to business use only. I don't think it would be well received if everyone complained that they couldn't download mp3s during business hours or couldn't surf Ebay.
Tim Timpson, USA
Nope, keep the net open and free. Censorship of all kinds is an affront to humanity.
Char-Lez Braden, USA
Yes, I would also restrict access to sites which are used for chat, shopping, and games. University computers should be used for academic purposes only. Internet cafes or home owned computers should be used for "trivial" internet pursuits.
Graham Crane, UK
Here's a simple solution. Limit the students access only during "business hours" and let them have open access at night. Most students are night owls anyway; professors are not.
Speaking as a student at Oxford university where they have also banned napster.com and imesh.com access I agree that censorship is both unnecessary and sets a dangerous precedent. Given the main issue is bandwidth then limiting the bandwidth is clearly far more desirable than shutting down access to sites which are popular.
I suspect that the authorities also considered that these were "of limited academic use". I personally feel that such decisions to block access based on the university's opinion on the value of their content are a totally unacceptable form of censorship.
David Weston, UK
YES! they should be prevented First of all they are there for academic reasons and no other reason. If downloading music is the main reason why they are there, they are better off joining the music world.
Amanda Howard, Ghana
Certainly not - censorship is questionable in any shape or form. But this time big brother has gone too far!
Kenny Brunton, England
I think these students are talking out of their posteriors. The university is not censoring them, but attempting to maintain a service designed to assist the students in their education.
As I understand it, the majority of local calls are free in the states. Why don't these students arrange to have their own phone lines in their homes or 'frat' houses so they can use up their own bandwidth. Always wanting something for nothing!
Why is downloading music worse than looking at Yahoo! or Microsoft sites? They should ban any popular use of the internet if they are using the argument of bandwidth.
Tom, English in the US
If students want to download music they should do so using their own PC and phone line. Taking up valuable IT resources for such frivolous things as music is selfish as it ties up bandwidth for those using the Internet and network for real work. Alternatively stop being such a bunch of cheapskates and go and buy a CD!
Matthew Kerry, UK
University computers should be used for studying and educational purposes only.
Martin Kaczynski, United Kingdom
I can agree with universities on this point. When I graduated (only 2 years ago) we had loads of signs in the computer centre saying that the computers are for academic work only. I am now a system administrator and get equally annoyed when employees use valuable bandwidth to listen to streaming audio/video and to download material that is not related to their job.
I fully support the British and American universities on this issue: Remove the privileges of students who download MP3s or any other material not directly related to their studies.
Pete James, UK
The Internet has been part of university life for many years now - but if students wish it to be free for all to use, they should undertake a respectable use policy. By hogging bandwidth on non-curricular activities they are hogging true academic activity. If the students won't treat the university network fairly, then they should expect to get their lines cut.
Bob Stall, UK
They should get their own internet account like the rest of us. School and University internet access should be for academic use only. Napster is purely for personal use.
Yes, it should be prevented. That's not what those computers are there for, clear and simple. Any company that these students will work for in the future will prevent them from doing that as well, so why encourage them in this behaviour in University? Students should do this on their own computer, in their own time.
I never knew there were so many music students! Clearly though, these students have a right to access freely what is pertinent to their study....
Christopher Briggs (ex Brit), Norway
I think this is unbelievable. If students want to look up music then they should be allowed to do so.
Michele Harper, Scotland
As much as I love playing with the internet at the end of the day the universities are providing the service. The universities are spending large amounts of money to allow students to access the web for educational purposes. Why shouldn't they be allowed to decide what it's used for. After all why should someone's music download be allowed to interfere with another person's research?
Lee Mason, UK
Why should they not ban Napster - it is a tool that exists to promote MP3 piracy (if you don't believe me, use it...). I am actually one of those students at a university at which it has been banned.
Mixed feelings - knowing how much it costs me to send my son to Uni, I welcome any way of limiting his expenditure, and CDs accounted for plenty of this. However, I'd prefer to think that his hours spent in the computer room were contributing towards his degree rather than his already full social life.
Of course the universities can't be seen to sacrifice resources to music piracy which were intended to further the students' studies, and if Napster calls reduce system availability to the more studious, then my son and his mates shouldn't be abusing their privileges.
D P, UK
Have these students no work to do?
Stu, N Ireland
Oxford's banned Napster too so today I'm going on hunger strike till either: 1) they bring it back or 2) 6pm today - whichever comes first.
Antonio Fortin, UK
The students are there to work, they say they have a right to access the internet without censorship for education, yes, for entertainment no. If they want to surf the web for entertainment use there own computer or pay at an internet cafe.
They are just moaning because they could download all that music for free. They complain because higher education is not free, the amount of money they have cost the university they could have given many scholarships to students who want to learn. Not surf the web for music.
Craig Brown, Britain
As a UK University student I find that the problem with university networks is not what clogs up the bandwidth, but the fact that the Internet has exploded beyond it's capacity. When the University that I study at installed a data network in its halls during 1997 it was assumed that 1 in 40 students would have a need for it. The actual number is now almost 1 in 5. The solution is simple: increase the bandwidth. It needs doing...Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Simon Laven, United Kingdom
Free internet access is essentially a privilege for students, paid for by the university. I think that bandwidth concerns should be respected by students, but that equally, it is a little heavy-handed of universities to impose blanket bans. I am in favour of compromise, and the scheme run by New York university seems a good idea to me, whereby only a certain number of Napster sessions are permitted at any one time.
Tony Brooks, UK
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