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Students Want Napster Back
by Doug Reece, 2000-02-15

Add Indiana University to the growing list of schools blocking access to Napster.

Citing potential bandwidth concerns caused by the massive MP3 file sharing occurring through Napster (see "Napster Expelled From Oxford"), U. of Indiana officials put up a firewall Feb. 12 to prevent system congestion.

Within two days of the action, however, students had began organizing an online campaign against the university at Students Against University Censorship. The group is requesting petition signatures and angling for free legal counsel.

Movement organizer Chad Paulson argues that it is the students' tuition that goes to supporting the school's network and that they shouldn't have been blocked from the program without first being consulted.

"It's our bandwidth," said Paulson. "If there's a problem with the network and it's failing to serve the students and the university, we understand, but it was working just fine. What we're really asking for is student representation in the decision-making process."

Though University of Indiana officials emphasize that their actions are based around bandwidth concerns, Paulson believes the nationwide Napster crackdown has at least something to do with the recording industry's college-level anti-piracy campaign and a lack of understanding of the legitimate uses of MP3s.

"Even owning MP3s without permission of the artist is illegal," a recent issue of the Indiana Daily Student claimed.

Last December, the University of Florida's network engineering coordinator told that the recording industry had contacted the school in March 1999, pressuring it to police MP3 piracy on the network. Last November, representatives from Carnegie Mellon Universitysaid that the RIAA (in spite of claims by the trade association to the contrary) had repeatedly threatened them with legal action for not being more proactive in monitoring illegal music traffic.

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