Curbing the campus network

— 3:12 AM on September 16, 2002

Universities and colleges are now back in full swing, and I don't doubt that there's a whole lot of P2P file sharing going on across dorm and campus networks. So what's an institution to do? There are really two issues here, the first being the ongoing battle between P2P networks and copyright holders like the RIAA, and the second being the saturation of campus bandwidth by P2P networks that are often not sharing anything remotely school-related.

If you're USC, you tackle the issue of copyright violation by threatening to kick students off the network:

"We want to alert you to the fact that many of you are risking complete loss of access to the USC computer system and both disciplinary and legal action," wrote USC dean of libraries Jerry Campbell and vice president of student affairs Michael Jackson in the e-mail.
My alma mater, the University of British Columbia, has taken on the issue of bandwidth usage by requiring all network users to register computers being used on campus networks. Each student will be subject to a weekly transfer limit of 4GB, but they'll at least be able to buy additional transfer credits to keep up their music sharing, er, research.

I can remember back when my idea of a campus network consisted of a bunch of coaxial cable strung and duct-taped between open dorm windows. Today it seems that students feel entitled to uncapped, unrestricted bandwidth; do they have a leg to stand on? Is there anything a college or university can realistically do to keep everyone happy?

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