Volume 93, Issue 53

Friday, December 3, 1999


CASA wish-list announced

City toys with budget surplus

Napster goes off-line for students

Hands-on learning in cyberspace

Preventative bacteria probed

Donation fuels AIDS education

Keep fit, have fun and warm down


Caught on campus

Buzz Mecca

Napster goes off-line for students

By Stephanie Cesca
Gazette Staff

The university filtered out a popular internet program last week, after receiving complaints from the Canadian Recording Industry Association.

Bill Genn, assistant director of Western's Information Technology Services, said the university slashed a program used to download and exchange sound files, called Napster, after the CRIA filed two complaints, claiming Western students were using the program to engage in illegal activity.

The site allowed students to download and distribute server files which infringed on copyright material, Genn said. He added the CRIA wanted Western to put a stop to students using the site. "They were basically asking the university to take action against the illegal copying and distribution of copyright protected music."

Ken Thompson, general counsel and lawyer for the CRIA, said he would not comment on the issue until he had received a formal reply from Western.

Genn also said ITS believed the site caused too much traffic for non-academic use. "The total amount of university traffic going outside to the rest of the world – well, 50 per cent was Napster related."

Genn added he has received some complaints from students, but said ITS would ensure all internet use is legal.

Neil Kapoor, a fourth-year administrative and commercial studies student and social sciences councillor, said he was an avid user of napster.com and was upset by the absence of the web site. "[ITS] could have simply blocked the port instead of blocking access to the web site." He added he believed the Acceptable Use agreement – a contract ITS subscribers sign – made no mention of not being able to access File Transfer Protocol servers.

Despite the filtering, some students are still able to access the site, said Chris Hodge, a second-year visual arts student. "I'm using it right now."

Hodge said Napster can still be salvaged for anyone who previously downloaded it on a zip file on their computer.

Although Hodge said he could understand why the university would be concerned about some of the illegalities associated with Napster, he said the law is tricky in the respect that it is legal to download a song file, provided that you already own the CD.

A representative from Napster could not be reached for comment.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999