Napster, universities discuss bandwidth complications

(U-WIRE) DURHAM, N.H. – Napster.com, the MP3 retrieval program that has been blocked by hundreds of universities nationwide, is currently working with 100 of those universities to solve the clogged bandwidth problem. However, the University of New Hampshire is not one of them.

Napster is a popular worldwide distributor of MP3 (music) files. Once a member, users can obtain any MP3 file on all other members’ databases, including bootlegged MP3s that are illegal to own because the artist never gave permission to have the song traveling along the Internet as an MP3. This is known as copyright infringement. The University of New Hampshire put a block on Napster earlier in the semester for this reason.

Another problem with Napster is that the program takes up too much space on many universities’ computer network bandwidths, making it slow and difficult to use educational programs. Hundreds of universities put a block on Napster because of this.

According to the textbook, Understanding Computers Today & Tomorrow, the technical definition of bandwidth is the difference between the highest and lowest frequencies that a transmission medium can accommodate. The higher the bandwidth a university uses for its computer networks, the more information that can be carried at one time.

Before the block was put into place at Indiana University, Napster was taking up as much as 80 percent of the school’s bandwidth. Napster has since worked with the school to devise a way for Napster not to take up more than 10 percent of any school’s bandwidth.

Dan Wool, a public relations representative for Napster, spoke about the new system Indiana University has implemented.

Now, when a student does a music search through Napster, it goes first to the university’s network, and if the search item can’t be found, the search is automatically redirected to the Internet 2, which is a network of over 200 universities that share information, Wool said.

If the search is still unsuccessful, then and only then will the search go out into the public domain. According to Wool, any school can use this method, and it has now been released into the World Wide Web for anyone to use.

Bob Johnson, the director of the University of New Hampshire’s Telecom and Client Services, said he is aware that Napster is trying to decrease the bandwidth it takes up. He said he’s been receiving an overwhelming number of phone calls and letters in the past couple weeks.

There was some information that had gotten out that the reason Napster was blocked was because of the bandwidth, Johnson said. Our issues with Napster had purely to do with Napster’s copyright infringement lawsuit.

The bandwidth was never clogged because of Napster, according to Johnson. But once the copyright infringement issue was brought to the attention of Telecom, they couldn’t ignore it and had to act since that is their policy.

I’m waiting to see how it all plays out in the courts, Johnson said.

He said that people in his department are keeping tabs on the court case, and if Napster is found not guilty of infringing copyrights, the block will be lifted instantly.

Personally, I can’t wait to take the thing off, Johnson said.

Jim Fealtman, a student who collects MP3s, said, I don’t agree with the block on Napster because I believe that people should be able to have uncensored access to music they want to hear.

-Dennis Anderson
The New Hampshire (U. of New Hampshire)

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