While some universities have fought back against RIAA complaints about their students using file sharing for making unauthorized copies of content, it appears that Ohio University is going to the opposite extreme. Slashdot points out that the university has announced that all P2P file sharing is banned as of this coming Friday. The university gives a variety of reasons for it and seems to bounce back and forth between rationales. It may be because file sharing could overwhelm network resources, though they give no indication that current file sharing systems have actually been a problem -- just that it could be a problem. Then they claim that file sharing could transmit bad stuff like viruses and spyware. Of course, so can email and the web, but the university doesn't appear to be banning the use of either of those things. Then, finally, the university brings up the real reason for the ban. Apparently, staff at the university are sick of dealing with those new prelitigation letters from the RIAA. Rather than following in the footsteps of the University of Nebraska and sending the RIAA a bill for time wasted, Ohio University has decided it's best to just ban P2P apps altogether. Of course, while they have a "partial list" of banned apps, the description is so vague, it's unclear what might get you kicked off the university network. Something like Skype is P2P and uses up bandwidth -- so based on some of the university's reasoning, it too should be banned. It's a sad statement of the times that an institution designed for educating and learning about new things would decide to completely shut off any use of powerful technologies that have plenty of perfectly legitimate uses just because some backwards industry group can't figure out how to change its outdated business models.
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