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Students finding ways around Napster block

Jan. 17, 2001

Network traffic, server slowdowns reasons for ban



Napster has been banned from the campus network, but students have found ways to get the music they want for free.

On Aug. 29, 2000, Baylor's block on Napster went into effect, disappointing students who used Napster to acquire music at no cost through Web-based file sharing. Students determined to keep their rights to free music said the network ban has not kept them from obtaining files.

Waco sophomore Cody Wardlaw said the restrictions wouldn't keep him from getting Mp3s.

'I enjoy downloading music and burning CDs, so I would probably look for other ways to get it.'

Many programs called 'Napster copycats' provide the same services that Napster did.

Some music resources on the Internet, such as Scour Exchange or Songspy, have escaped the fate of Napster either because they don't have the same notoriety or because they use different technologies than the kind that landed Napster into trouble.

In the past, some students used Napster and other music sharing resources in the Moody Memorial Library computer lab. The lab computers operate on a T-1 Internet connection, making downloads significantly faster than in many student homes, enabling students to download songs onto zip disks and transfer them to their own computers.

Tommy Santibanez, a Moody Library lab assistant, says he hasn't noticed a significant change in the Moody computer lab since the ban went into effect.

'At the end of last semester we could still find Napster in some of the lab computers. Over Christmas break all the Napster programs were erased.

But the amount of people using the lab and the length of time they stay is about the same.'

Santibanez says that the lab assistants have noticed music file sharing once or twice in the lab since the ban went into effect.

'When Napster was still on some of the computers the lab assistants were told to ask any students using it to shut the program down. But they haven't really told us to do that about any other programs except Napster.'

Students who live off-campus don't feel that they are affected by the ban and simply refrain from using campus computers.

Houston freshman Veronique Street said, 'I don't really care about the Baylor ban on Napster. I don't use the campus computers anymore.

I just use a different Internet service at my apartment and use Napster as much as I want on there. Napster is easier and more effective and I wouldn't change what I already use, especially when I can just use it at home with no restrictions.'

Other students who use campus computer labs say they either use other off-campus computers that don't restrict Napster or one of the countless copycats that are available that operate with different systems that are not legally liable.

By banning Napster from the university servers, network officials hoped to ease some of the congestion and slow-down caused by file sharing and downloads, freeing the network for students using it for academic activities.

Tommy Roberson, the network security administrator for the Information Technology Center, said the ITC can't enforce restrictions on all loopholes that students find to obtain music, but they encourage students to conduct themselves in a lawful manner that represents the university standard.

'We don't want to make life miserable for the students.'

The ITC does have programs that come up once in a while that tie up the network in the same way Napster did, but they are not currently a significant problem and 'they will be dealt with as they come along,' Roberson said.

Roberson says the policy in the Information Systems Usage Policies that says 'the use of loopholes or specific tools . . . is expressly prohibited' does not apply directly to Napster or music downloading on network computers.