Committee on Information Technology
Oct. 3, 2000
In attendance were Rick Matthews, Rhoda Channing, Bernadine Barnes, Jay Dominick,
Tyler Koop, Lindsey Evans, Gordon McCray, Leah McCoy, and Steve Wicker.
The revised policy on copyright ownership of works created by members
of the university community was approved unanimously.
Most of the remaining time of the meeting was devoted to a discussion
on the use of Napster and similar file-sharing programs on campus. Jay
Dominick presented an overview of the problem:
What can be done:
The immediate problem has to do with resources. The university will face
a shortage of bandwidth in about 6 months; it may not be possible to add
sufficient bandwidth to keep up with demand. Jay extimated that 1/2 to
1/3 of all internet traffic is Napster usage.
The problem is file-sharing from outside sources; we have sufficient bandwidth
on campus to accomodate demand (Lindsey Evans informed us about student
perceptions of having their on-campus file-sharing monitored, but not off-campus--a
perception that is apparently the reverse of the actual situation).
There are also legal and ethical problems involving Napster. Napster is
now in court to decide whether such file transfer is legal. Napster
itself can claim that it is merely an Internet Service Provider; the university
can claim the same, but the end-users (students, faculty) can be held liable
and hardward (theoretically) could be confiscated. Since the University
owns the machines we may also be held responsible for illegal use by students.
The committee agreed that at this point, information about the problem
should be presented to the university community, and that Information Systems
should begin to gather specific information about Napster usage by segments
of the community. Gordon McCray also suggested that a plan be put in place,
so that if Napster is found to be illegal by the courts, we can immediately
take steps to stop its use on campus. Rick Matthews pointed out that
the Computer Usage policy does say that use of computers in a way that
limits the availability of resources to others is prohibited.
A router could be used to block Napster traffic
Bandwidth availability could be limited to certain types of users or segments
of the university community, with unlimited use for academic purposes
Individual usage could be monitored--we should at least find out if the
increased demand is caused by only a small percentage of the university
population. If so, limits could be put on those individuals in the
form of added fees or limited access to the Interet.
The university should be informed about this problem and its consequences.
Sam Gladding's office has offered to fund an publicity campaign to this
Other matters discussed:
- Rick Matthews told the committee that at a future meeting a sub-committee
will be formed to evaluate the new operating system.
- Rick Matthews also reported on the lack of progress regarding the development
of the ACS career ladder. Ralph Pederson, director of Human Resources, now
hopes to have his report ready by the end of the year.
- Jay Dominick gave a summary of organizational changes at Information Systems.