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Ohio University Blocks P2P File Sharing 425

After receiving the highest number of notices from the RIAA about P2P file sharing, Ohio University has announced a policy that restricts all fire sharing on the campus network. Some file-sharing programs that could trigger action are Ares, Azureus, BitTorrent, BitLord, KaZaA, LimeWire, Shareaza and uTorrent. Claiming that this effort is 'to ensure that every student, faculty member and researcher has access to the computer resources they need,' is this another nail in the coffin of internet freedom in American universities or a needed step to prevent illegal fire sharing?
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Ohio University Blocks P2P File Sharing

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  • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:18PM (#18877113) Homepage Journal
    I wonder what level are they blocking?

    If its at the wall, won't internal sharing continue?
    Just because you can stop the data coming in via p2p means doesn't mean the data won't be there (waste/DC can exist in a private garden without ever touching the real net).

    Or is this an active process which does a portscans your machine continuously?

    Failing everything else, there is always sneakernet. Expect a rise in blanks in the area.
    • by Akaihiryuu ( 786040 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:31PM (#18877303)
      The Blizzard downloader uses Bittorrent to download patches.
      • Blizzard Downloader (Score:4, Informative)

        by Z34107 ( 925136 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @11:31PM (#18880201)

        The Blizzard downloader uses a form of the Bittorrent protocol - a broken, noncompliant, single purpose form of the protocol - to download patches. It doesn't actually use a Bittorrent client, or any of the same ports.

        It's the margarine of the 'torrent world.

      • by Lesrahpem ( 687242 ) <> on Thursday April 26, 2007 @06:00AM (#18882133) Homepage
        BitTorrent is also used for a lot of other 100% legitimate things. OSU has a sizeable computer science department and offers a lot of courses related to UNIX/Linux. I wonder if they realize that these days the most common way to get ISO's for Linux is BitTorrent?

        Aside from all that, this effort is somewhat futile since many clients support encrypted/tunneled transfers and/or using Tor. From my experience, Tor traffic is nearly impossible to reliably classify (and therefore block).
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 )
          A university will already have a fileserver with the required linux ISOs on it, for download internally. The same with all other required software. No bittorrent needed (and it's far from the most common way to get it.. it's still much faster to go to the ftp site and download it directly).

          The Linux ISO excuse has been used so much now that it's used as code for Warez/Porn, as in 'I went over my bandwidth cap downloading Linux ISOs'.

          Bittorrent has legitimate uses in the same way an Uzi does. Sure, I coul
    • by dark-br ( 473115 )
      > Failing everything else, there is always sneakernet.

      Sneakernet [] is dead... remember? Don't you dare copying that floppy! []

    • by Jim Hall ( 2985 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:49PM (#18877617) Homepage

      I wonder what level are they blocking?
      If its at the wall, won't internal sharing continue?

      From the article, I guess they are blocking at the port level. That is, if Network Security discovers you have P2P traffic coming from your network jack, they turn off the port that serves that jack (possibly for 24hrs, or until you talk to them.) That means you can't even do P2P inside the local network.

      We do this at the University I work for, unless you have a research need to use P2P (or some other legitimate need that has been reviewed.) I imagine they will by default disable P2P through their wireless network - but doing P2P over an 802.11 network would seem silly anyway.

  • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:31PM (#18877311)
    It's not a "nail in the coffin" of anything. If college kids have to pay a bit for their own connection, they will. Hell, I bet most college kids these days all have cable TV. What's another $20/month on a $100/month cable bill? They call their cable company, tack on the service, and it's over. No controversy.
    • by Volante3192 ( 953645 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:42PM (#18877499)
      They don't always get that option. Back when I was at Berkeley in 2000, bandwidth was getting hammered hard. Some people even thought of getting their own service, but phone and cable co.s don't have the necessary access to the dorm network that they would need to put that in place, and rescomp wouldn't give it to them anyway.

      Course, it has been 6 years, things may have changed, but I doubt it...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by postmortem ( 906676 )
      I pay $200 /semester for computer use. And all I use is their bandwidth.
      • Sounds about right. Your average semester is three to four months long. $50-$60/mo isn't so bad for the kind of bandwidth most universities have.
        • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @07:07PM (#18877915)

          Doesn't that kinda depend on being able to use the bandwidth for something useful, though?

          If the university is offering high-speed Internet access for free to students, then restricting it to ensure it's properly available for academic use is one thing. If they're actually charging for it at a market rate, then restricting it is completely out of line. If the students start doing illegal stuff with it, sure, kick 'em off if it's causing problems, but don't block stuff by default even for those who are using those technologies for constructive purposes when those people are paying for the privilege.

    • You can't (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @07:11PM (#18877969)
      Generally, universities own all rights of way on their campuses. That's certainly the case here. All data, telephone, cable, water, electricity, all provided by the university to all buildings on campus proper, which includes the dorms. Thus you have no option but the provided dorm service. Here that's not a problem for most students, as we aren't dicks about it and provide pretty good service. However if they don't like it, there's nothing they can do. They cannot order other service, it simply is not available.

      What may happen, and should happen to universities that restrict it like this, is they should get sued. There are limits to a public university's ability to compete with and to keep out private companies. This would be more than enough to insist that they need to be let in. Massive problem for the university to make that happen though.
  • Bandwidth? (Score:2, Insightful)

    My college, which is private, doesn't allow even iTunes sharing amongst the students, because the bandwidth usage slows everything down significantly. Now, this is a private school and we aren't rolling in money, but it's still an issue.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vertinox ( 846076 )
      My college, which is private, doesn't allow even iTunes sharing amongst the students

      I went to a state college in the 90's and they kept the dorm networks completely separate from the school networks. I don't know if it was foresight or not, but they appeared to keep the college system up and running all the time, but the dorm network often slowed to a crawl (and this was before Napster) and you had to foot it out to a lab if you needed something off the network.
    • This probably means that they still have decade old routers and shared hubs which probably don't even work at 100Mbps.
  • I think water would do just fine
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      ROR. That's irregal too!
    • by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:59PM (#18877809)

      He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper [(candle)] at mine, receives light without darkening me.

      That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation.
      -- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Isaac McPherson, 13 August 1813

      That is the basis of both "information wants to be free" and "copyright infringement is not theft [in the literal sense]".

      Jefferson's works make me wish Amnesty International hadn't already appropriated the candle-and-barbed-wire logo for themselves.
  • by cyberianpan ( 975767 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:34PM (#18877363)

    "Peer-to-peer file-sharing consumes a disproportionate amount of resources, both in bandwidth and human technical support." "Left unchecked, P2P applications can consume all available network bandwidth,"
    The bandwidth is an ok reason.

    It also initiated "John Doe" lawsuits against users of computers on Ohio University's network. The university estimates staff members have spent nearly 120 hours dealing with the prelitigation letters from the RIAA.
    That's not a good reason. How are we to know which is the "real" reason?
    • by Score Whore ( 32328 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @07:07PM (#18877917)
      Why would you say the second isn't a good reason? Responding to properly submitted legal papers is a requirement of such an organization. Even if it turns out that the RIAA ends up unable to make their case, the university still has to bear the cost of responding to subpoenas.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sancho ( 17056 )
        Exactly. I bet the same people complaining that that "isn't a good reason" would be up-in-arms about a tuitition increase intended to address the issue (by hiring more staff, cleaning up the infrastructure to make dealing with the complaints easier, etc).
  • by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <> on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:37PM (#18877403) Homepage Journal
    It's about controlling bandwidth costs that have soared as a result of the explosive growth of p2p traffic. I have spoken with several large ISP's in the past year and most of them quote numbers like 65-75% of their total traffic is p2p. Given the demographic makeup of most universities, I'd bet their percentage is even higher. Those big fiber pipes cost big bucks.
    • by Rakishi ( 759894 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:43PM (#18877519)
      Then put god damn bandwidth limits on students in both gb/month and kb/s with an easy to use system to apply for exceptions.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Lets say you have an 4 OC-12s (no idea what they'd actually have)
        That's about 2400mbps of bandwidth. (4&~600 mbps payload)

        Lets say you have 24,000 students, and 10% of them are doing p2p => 2,400 sharers
        That's 1mbps per sharer to saturate your connection which is not really a large amount.

        In this scenario, unless you bring your cap below that, you won't affect existing sharing.
        And if you drop it below that, you really start to impact real work/research.

        Doing an across the board limit just doesn't wo
      • by KillerCow ( 213458 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @07:22PM (#18878115)

        Then put god damn bandwidth limits on students in both gb/month and kb/s with an easy to use system to apply for exceptions.

        No no no! This will actually solve the problem while maintaining the neutrality of the network!

        By telling students what they can and can't do, the University maintains its mommy/daddy role to the students, and further leaves themselves open to more legal actions, allowing them to parent the students more in the future.

        The goal is to have as much administration involved as possible (administrators only exist to create more administration) and to control the students as overtly as possible!
    • So charge the students for their bandwidth usage at slightly above what it's costing. Use the extra money for upgrades.

      Bandwidth is a resource that costs money - giving people "Unlimited" bandwidth and then degrading the internet connection to prevent "excess use" is absurd. Hell, if you give every student the first gig/month free most of them won't even notice the policy change.

    • I have spoken with several large ISP's in the past year and most of them quote numbers like 65-75% of their total traffic is p2p. Given the demographic makeup of most universities, I'd bet their percentage is even higher. Those big fiber pipes cost big bucks.

      and both isp subscribers and students pay big bucks, or is 5 figures a year not enough for them?

      its one thing to apply qos to manage bandwidth, its quite another to start making student's choices for them and refusing to provide "internet" service.


      • and both isp subscribers and students pay big bucks, or is 5 figures a year not enough for them?

        Students are not paying five figures a year for bandwidth.

        its one thing to apply qos to manage bandwidth, its quite another to start making student's choices for them and refusing to provide "internet" service.

        It's perfectly legitimate for a school to stop providing a particular service. However much you want to think students are paying for the costs of their education, the reality is is that public schools are

      • if they cant provide the bandwidth they sold to their customers then they should be sued for fraud, not allowed to strip down and hobble what they advertised as "unlimited".

        The ISPs contend that unlimited meant always-connected, not always maxed-out. I wish they didn't put that bit in the fine print of an ad, but I've seen it there.

        Lesson to learn: don't oversell your bandwidth.

        Bandwidth overselling is one way that that ISPs can give you an affordable rate. I've heard of ISP techs saying that they use as
    • Like a Packateer or the like. Just set P2P to a lower priority than other traffic. Thus it'll never interfere but get as much bandwidth as is available. That's what we've done here, works quite well. Also, then you don't get in to the problem of playing net cops.

      Also there are plenty of legit reasons to use P2P. Linux being a major one. I find all the fastest downloads for Linux distros are torrents. Hell, when Knoppix 5 came out I downloaded it and then seeded over the weekend since it was summer and the b
  • Higher learning (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reason58 ( 775044 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:37PM (#18877405)

    In addition to consuming bandwidth and technological resources, P2P file-sharing also exposes the university network to viruses, spyware and other attacks. It also is frequently used for illegally distributing copyrighted works.
    Replace "P2P file-sharing" in that statement with "the internet" and it is just as valid. This has nothing to do with any of the reasons they have listed and everything to do with them preemptively caving in to legal pressure from the RIAA.
  • Oh No! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Rebelgecko ( 893016 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:37PM (#18877413)
    Ohio University has announced a policy that restricts all fire sharing on the campus network
    ... is this another nail in the coffin of internet freedom in American universities or a needed step to prevent illegal fire sharing? >
    Oh No! How will pyromaniacs share now? But seriously, it's kind of sad that a major error like that can slip through... twice.
    • What I find even worse is that 'r' and 'l' are on two completely different sides of the keyboard, not to mention different rows...

      ... unless they are using Dvorak []?
  • Makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrCawfee ( 13910 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <eefwacrm>> on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:38PM (#18877423) Homepage
    I've worked at a college, in an average week we would get 10-15 riaa letters (with our seemly small number of 3000 residents), and responding to them gets to be a huge chore. Most campuses are taking the "we don't want to get sued, so we will not put ourselves in that position" approach, so ignoring those letters is not an option.

    At the place i worked at, for a while we did try to block kazaa and the like, the problem was that there would always be a new protocol that would pop up to take it's place. We eventually gave up on blocking it because of this.

    This story is really not a new thing in the university world, most have a policy of limiting the student's ability to fileshare (some through innocent means like NAT routing, others through throttling the bandwidth for those services).

    So before we all get up in arms that people are limiting access, you'd think again when you have to call 20 people in a day, tell them why their access has been shut off, and have every one of them claim that they've never file shared in their lives. Only to get the call the next day where they complain that their their myspace is too slow.
    • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chandon Seldon ( 43083 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:57PM (#18877769) Homepage

      You have two problems, they can be handled separately.

      First, you get RIAA letters. The appropriate response is a form letter saying that "Our school privacy policy prohibits us from releasing user information without a subpoena or court order" (obviously you'll want to verify that with a lawyer, but you shouldn't be sending out user information based on random letters). If you do get a legit subpoena or court order, send them the info if it's still available.

      Second, you have excess bandwidth usage. This is really simple: Charge the students a reasonable fee for bandwidth overages - this will encourage users to conserve without unduly constraining people who actually are willing to pay for their bandwidth. It also has the advantage that as demand increases you automatically have the money to pay for upgrades.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MrCawfee ( 13910 )
        Your first point: we don't give out that information to them, we do the "cover our ass" paper trail in case we get sued. so no, that information is never given out

        Second point: Actually we are implementing pay for service very soon (mainly to cover the cost of re-wiring our older buildings as well as wiring newly purchased properties).. sooo... you're right about this one ;)
    • by jcgf ( 688310 )

      and have every one of them claim that they've never file shared in their lives. Only to get the call the next day where they complain that their their myspace is too slow.

      uhh, I'm not an expert on myspace but I didn't know it was a p2p app.

  • Knee jerk (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hansamurai ( 907719 ) <> on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:41PM (#18877475) Homepage Journal
    So a few weeks back, everyone finds out that Ohio University leads the country in file sharing. Now instead of taking steps to try to curb this, they just announce they'll cut it off all together. I'm sure they felt pretty embarrassed being on top of the list, but there are other options.
  • Applause (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:42PM (#18877481) Homepage
    Applause to the BOFH that has pushed it through, though I would have done it differently.

    Most university IPs are real on a really high speed connected LAN. As a result they get elected to supernode status by most modern P2P applications. As a result the university network becomes a jump point for NAT traversal for all leaches within 30-60ms rtt around it. As a result the resource usage is clearly disproportional to the actual on-campus usage. Essentially all small and medium corporates and home users sitting behind firewalls in the immediate vicinity live off that resource and steal a significant portion of the Ohio University network capacity.

    Personally, if I was the admin, I would have tried to QoS P2P down (and net neutrality be damned) to the point where the campus is made equivalent to the rest of the world.

    Unfortunately even if the protocols were easier to isolate, that may be quite difficult for a network the size of Ohio State. Most network equipment used at the bandwidths in question cannot do selective delays and probability drops very well. The P2P applications nowdays make the "if the protocols are easier to isolate" statement false anyway. All the developers know that they are committing a resource theft and they go way beyond what is considered spyware tactics to achieve their aims (current Skype is a fine example of this).

    So on the balance of things, just banning them to hell is probably the most cost effective options. Congrats and applause. Can we have more of that please. A few more and the net economics will go back to where they belong so people actually start looking at things like multicast and frontline in-local-loop delivery instead emulating it through resource theft.
    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @07:16PM (#18878049)
      Until the school gets sued, and the courts rule that they have to now allow students to purchase third part services. It's real likely they would in a case like this and it'll be expensive as hell for the university to implement. When you are a public university, you have to be careful what restrictions you implement. Dorms are people's residences and there are rights that come with that. For example you could make a rule saying that employees can enter a room at any time for any reason, and you could give them keys to do so. You'd quickly find out, however, that the police disagreed with that view and those responsible would be in trouble, possibly jail.

      Remember: Nearly all university students are adults, with all the rights it implies. Universities don't get to take those away just because they feel it is convenient. Dorms in many ways have to be treated like apartments: Just because you own them, doesn't mean you have unlimited rights to them.
    • Re:Applause (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mmurphy000 ( 556983 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @07:19PM (#18878087)

      Personally, if I was the admin, I would have tried to QoS P2P down (and net neutrality be damned) to the point where the campus is made equivalent to the rest of the world.

      Applying QoS across the board on all known P2P applications would not be a violation of net neutrality. Arguably, neither would applying QoS for a single standard (de facto or de jure) protocol, like BitTorrent.

      What would be a violation of net neutrality would be if they applied QoS to BitTorrent, except to certain sites that paid the university a fee.

  • Medium vs Message (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SiliconEntity ( 448450 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:44PM (#18877525)
    The problem I have with these kinds of regulations is the confusion between the medium which is used to transport the data, and the message, the specific data being transported. If the Uni is unhappy about copyright violations, that's one thing; or if they have bandwidth problems, that's legit; but restricting specific protocols and programs does not accurately target the problem behavior. They seem to adopt the maxim that "the Medium is the Message"; that is, if something is being transferred by Bittorrent, it is a copyright violation. And granted, that is the case much of the time.

    But it is not a perfect correlation. Banning Bittorrent will hamper downloading Linux ISOs and other high traffic, legitimate materials. There is no justification for saying that file sharing as a whole is illegal, any more than you could say that using the Internet is illegal even if it turns out that much traffic violates the law.
  • Against the grain (Score:5, Insightful)

    by trisweb ( 690296 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:44PM (#18877531) Journal
    Everyone else is going to be "OMG lamerz teh MAFIAAAAA won because of retard schoolz like u" but seriously, why is this not a good idea? It's the school's network, the RIAA is actually on their tails trying (however illegally or immorally) to punish their students, and they have every right to restrict the use of file sharing services on their network.

    Yes, I know that there are great legal uses for BitTorrent, but do you really think 95% of the students are using it to legally download Ubuntu or something? Yeah right. Get real and be honest with yourselves, this is probably a smart thing for the school to be doing. If the students want to download whatever they want, then they need to pay for their own DSL or move out of the dorms and be responsible for their own actions (gee, what a thought), but while they're using the school's network and the school is somewhat responsible for them, I think it's perfectly reasonable to restrict their illegal file sharing.

    It's a whole other argument whether the RIAA sucks (they do) and whether file sharing positively impacts the recording industry (it might) but for a school, come on, it's their right, and probably the right thing for them to do. Get over it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Their network? Last time I checked my housing payments go towards paying for it. (Yes, I know it does, I've seen the budget). I'm paying for something I can't use freely... Thank god for encryption and VPNs. (Secure IX is pretty handy, albeit has some bandwidth limitations)
  • by delirium of disorder ( 701392 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:47PM (#18877579) Homepage Journal
    You can tunnel just about any service over any other on a TCP/IP network. Do they plan on blocking http? email? ssh? ping? If so, why offer any network access at all? If not, I'm sure the students are already at work with various stegenographic and tunneling techniques that let your share files over unconventional services. Also, when I share with my college peers, I generally just do so using a usb disk drive that I carry with me. I can move tens of gigs of data in just a few minutes. Does the university plan on doing a full cavity search of all students to make sure that they don't possess any readable/writable media? This is the information age. You can't stop people from sharing information! (fucking Luddites)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Yeah, but there's got to be something on the other side of that tunnel. IOW, you aren't just tunneling from the students' PCs to the Bit Torrent/KaZaA/gnutella/whatever host -- you have to have an intermediate endpoint outside the university network to be the other side of your tunnel, which then connects to your torrent. At that point, the RIAA complaints are no longer the University's problem (although bandwidth still is).

      Add to that the fact that most people don't even know how to update their compu
  • Can you just hear the screams of agony if students can't download their normal patch updates for WoW? They'll be looking at FilePlanet and other places to get their patches.

    This could be fun if they didn't exempt Blizzard. I didn't notice any mention of their legal use of P2P torrent.
    • Nooooooooooooooooo! I need P2P so I can ride my flying epic mount in Ironforge.
    • Not to disappoint, but the WoW patcher has an option to disable P2P transfer, and use regular ol' HTTP. It's not nearly as fast as a properly configured BT client (which the Blizz Downloader can be), but it's also faster than 0.

      So, worry not. You can still sell your souls at $15/month (as I do mine).
  • Unsurprising (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shogarth ( 668598 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:48PM (#18877611)

    "Nail in the coffin of internet freedom" is a bit of an overstatement. There's no free lunch. Dealing with DMCA takedown notices is a huge burden on campus IT staff (our campus has a network security officer who has spent most of his tenure chasing movies and music) which cannot be ignored without the risk of losing the campus's protection under the DMCA safe-harbor provisions. Further, campuses don't have a magically free internet connection. Most pay into a state-wide consortium for Internet2 access then pay an additional, metered rate for commercial internet traffic. Why should universities spend limited resources to subsidize torrent traffic?

    Now before anyone talks about the legitimate p2p use, even that is a questionable use of university resources. Ideally p2p shares bandwidth costs so that everyone gets something for a minor contribution. This doesn't necessarily work out to the benefit of universities since their fat, low-latency pipes take priority over the narrow, slow-upload-speed DSL and cable-folks. Ultimately, the universities have to allocate resources to support university business and this policy must be seen as a business decision. If it is necessary for an aspect of university business, I suspect an exception will be allowed as soon as a faculty member makes the request. If the students are miffed, they can pay for commercial wireless access (like most cell phone companies offer) for on campus or use xDSL or cable at home.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by yar ( 170650 )
      There's no free lunch, but there are certainly legitimate uses. I've had students use peer to peer applications in my course. I've also had to deal with DMCA notices that students receive in the course of my work in IT at a university. Universities might very well need to make business decisions, but the business of universities is not necessarily the same thing as a commercial endeavor, nor should it be treated as such.

      Policing content, though, is another road to losing DMCA safe harbor protections, which
  • Good. I'd thought they'd have to take a legal or ethical stand on something. Had me worried there.
  • by crhylove ( 205956 ) <> on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @06:55PM (#18877737) Homepage Journal
    Applications by incoming freshman has dropped by 50%!!
  • No Servers! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @07:06PM (#18877905) Homepage
    Didn't Ohio University already have a policy against students placing servers on the Internet? Hello! When you run P2P, you're running a server!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The problem with a "no servers" policy is that "server" doesn't really mean anything. A server is a computer that somehow serves information to another computer. Which includes every computer on the internet. There is no actual difference between a "client" and a "server". Even if a client computer is just sending a request to an e-Mail server, it is still serving data.

      And it is not just a pedantic point. While it might seem like a computer that is only sending e-Mails is clearly a client, and not a server,
      • Re:No Servers! (Score:4, Informative)

        by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @08:45PM (#18879063) Homepage
        And it is not just a pedantic point.

        Yeah, it really is. And your email example is bogus too: if I return those emails, I do it by connecting back to an email server. The email server doesn't connect to me.

        I don't think there is any good technical or legal definition of what a "client" and "server" computer are.

        Try this one: If I can remotely connect to your computer and induce it to perform a non-trivial function at my convenience, its a server.

        We firewall jockeys even have a precise technical definition: If your machine accepts a SYN packet and responds with a SYN/ACK, or if your machine expects to receive the first in a series of UDP packets on a particular port, its a server.
  • When the University owns the wires or pays for the connection, they do as they see fit as long as their policies foster academic research. But I think nobody can come and state that p2p have a real academic use without being called hypocrits. I hope the IT Service Desk (or the deans) will be open to creative use of p2p. If all else fails, a few quids should convince the BOFH of your needs.

    All the bullshit about supporting theft or caving in to corporate terrorism is nothing but demagoguery. I so wish those
  • by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <spydermann.slashdot@ g m> on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @07:30PM (#18878227) Homepage Journal
    I've talked with some people in a couple of colleges in Mexico city. Here in Mexico filesharing isn't prosecuted as much as it is in the US - and yet I've seen bans in filesharing. Reason? Bandwidth. In one particular college, P2P activity covered around 99% of network activity, and webbrowsing became as slow as molasses until filesharing applications (napster at that time) were prohibited.
  • by sycomonkey ( 666153 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @07:50PM (#18878441) Homepage
    While this horribly draconian, stupid, pointless, and a fine example of educational institutions once again bending to the whim of content industry cartels, if they are going to be like that, they should treat dorms like every other apartment building in the world and allow the students to purchase their own internet connection if the ToS for the campus internet isn't acceptable (I would consider the inability to use Bittorrent completely unacceptable and barely worth being called "internet"). Chances are a student at this university will not only not be able to use the internet they pay for properly, it's not likely they'll be able to find an alternative ISP. Which should be illegal.
  • My Experience at OU (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chocolatetrumpet ( 73058 ) <> on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @09:05PM (#18879243) Homepage Journal
    When I went to OU, I lived in dorms for 3 years. Every room is provided with at least one school computer/monitor/printer, and often more, not to mention that IT would lend you a hub for free if you needed more ports, plus free wifi for students nearly campus-wide, and plenty of empty, air conditioned computer labs (rarely used because most people were using their computers in their rooms or their laptops on wifi... Beowulf, anyone?). So even the poorest student has PLENTY of accessibility.

    Back then, there was a lot of port throttling going on. Trying to serve anything from inside campus was nearly impossible due to the bandwidth being quickly throttled down, even on port 80. As for getting information from outside the campus network, only port 80 worked with any reasonable speed. Other ports were throttled back to the extreme, so much that watching a streaming video was often impossible. If you think academic information only comes in the form of text on a web page, you're mistaken - as a music major, there were tons of video and audio resources made unavailable by draconian bandwidth throttling. And no, I'm not going to send a special request to IT for each instance; that's impractical.

    While it is obvious that many students choose to infringe on copyright law, the true problem I believe is bandwidth usage. College is so expensive that I don't think any student would bat an eye at an extra $100/month in bandwidth expenses, to say the least. That's about the cost of books, though internet access provides enormous academic and social benefits.

    The best way to handle the situation is to provide more than enough bandwidth for academic and social needs, and try students who infringe on copyright law in school court. If they're found guilty, they get kicked out of school for a year.

    Add on to all this that OU subscribes to CDigix [] for all students - even if you live off campus. This company provides students with tons of cd quality music, entire albums, etc., of not only popular but also obscure artists, and it's completely legal, and many students are very happy with the content it provides.

    Because of the quick pace of technology change, banning p2p seems unwise to me. However, OU is a business, and like any business, it will do whatever the directors feel it needs to in order to make as much money as quickly as possible.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.