Music file-sharing continues despite U efforts

Amy Hackbarth

Before going to concerts, Andy likes to do his homework on the opening bands that will be playing.

Using his ethernet connection at Pioneer Hall, Andy – who wanted only his first name to be used to avoid detection by residence hall officials – downloads songs on AudioGalaxy to add to his collection of 4,000.

By using a file-sharing software program, Andy downloads songs from other users on the program. While he bolsters his collection with hardcore, jazz and funk downloads at night, other program users can upload information on his computer.

But student file-sharers like Andy are clogging the University network, said Ken Hanna, information technology manager.

“In general we’ve seen over 25 to 50 percent of the University bandwidth used in file-sharing programs,” Hanna said. “If it was a little bit here and there it wouldn’t be a problem, but this is significant.”

Outbound traffic, caused by people who upload files from University students using file-sharing programs, is causing the slowdown, said Jill Froehlich, technology initiatives coordinator for Housing and Residential Life.

“None of our students or faculty are benefiting from the outbound traffic, and we’re paying for it,” Froehlich said.

Students living in residence halls – whose ResNet User Agreements prohibit them from using “the connection and the computer as a server” – received letters from the University asking them to stop using file-sharing programs.

The letter also reminded students the University’s network policy prohibits “overloading the network with excessive data.”

Hanna refused to elaborate on how much file-sharing use is considered excessive.

“As soon as I give students a number ‘X,’ we’d see traffic with ‘X’ minus a little bit,” Hanna said.

Hanna said University officials detect file-sharing use by watching the traffic on certain network ports. Certain file-sharing programs, such as KaZaA Media Desktop, use specific ports that are easy to find.

KaZaA, Morpheus, Hotline and AudioGalaxy topped the list of file-sharing programs mentioned in the letter.

“There are probably 40 programs out there, but these seem to be ones we know about,” Hanna said. “This is a representative sample of the worst offenders.”

Use of both Morpheus and KaZaA increased internationally since Napster’s legal difficulties last year, according to a report by Jupiter Media Metrix, an Internet and technology survey service. Morpheus use increased by 186 percent, while KaZaA use increased by 157 percent.

The letters scared some students from using file-sharing programs.

Hatti Guske, a psychology senior who lived in Comstock Hall as a sophomore, stopped downloading music after receiving a similar letter two years ago.

“I didn’t want to get in any trouble or be at any risk,” she said. “A lot of my friends stopped too, but other people kept milking it for all it was worth.”

When the file-sharing usage of a student living in the residence halls is determined to be excessive, an Office of Information Technology official asks the student to stop using the computer as a server. Students who refuse to stop using file-sharing programs will be disconnected from the University network.

Renee Heggem, coordinator for Security Incident Response at the Office of Information Technology, said she couldn’t recall any students who were severed from the University network last year because of excessive file-sharing use.

The lack of discipline by the University makes some students immune to the warning letters, Andy said.

“They sent the same thing out last year,” Andy said. “I kept using it all year and still had an Internet connection. I don’t have any reason to be scared.”