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Monday, 28 February, 2000, 14:02 GMT
Students banned from music websites
students using computers
Universities say computer systems are becoming congested
A growing number of universities are preventing students from accessing some of the most popular internet music sites.

Staff have found that students downloading music has at times accounted for up to 60% of university internet traffic - which they say has slowed down staff and other students using the internet for academic work.

Universities are now using filtering programs to deny students access to music sites.

Among them is the University of Illinois, which has banned access to Napster, a site which allows users to locate and download MP3s - music files.

'Tip of the iceberg'

The university says that this single site can account for almost two-thirds of its internet traffic.

"That is not a cost the university is willing to sustain," said Bob Foertsch, from the computing offices of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Some universities in the UK have also imposed or are about to bring in similar bans.

A student group protesting against a similar ban at Indiana University in America says that almost 70 universities across the US have banned access to Napster.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg," said Chris White, who co-ordinates the residential computer network at Oregon State University.

He said a similar program called iMesh, which could be used to download films as well, was now becoming popular on campuses. The University of Illinois is among those filtering out students' use of iMesh.

Universities say the programs are cumbersome, because each user who downloads the software becomes a "server", capable of swapping music and video with other software users.

Legal action

Gregory Jackson, of the University of Chicago, said this results in an enormous amount of traffic flowing through university computer systems.

Napster spokeswoman Elizabeth Brooks said in a statement that the company was "aware of the bandwith issues faced by some universities and we are working together to address that".

Ryan Bruner, a freshman at Indiana University, said about 2,700 names were listed on a website petition for his group, Students Against University Censorship.

The group was aiming to collect 10,000 names, and hoped to take legal action to restore student access to the sites.

"I think it's a student's right. We should be able to look at what we want on the internet."

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See also:

24 Jan 00 |  Business
Record companies sue
28 Sep 99 |  Sci/Tech
It's only MP3 but I like it
22 Apr 99 |  Entertainment
Taming music on the Web
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