October 12, 2001
TO: NC State Students, Faculty and
FROM: Samuel F. Averitt, Vice Provost
for Information Technology
SUBJECT: Peer-to-peer file sharing
Peer-to-peer file sharing networks (such
as KaZaA, Morpheus, Audiogalaxy or Gnutella) enable those logged in
to download and share audio, video, software and other files. Recently,
heavy use of popular file sharing applications has begun to degrade
network performance to and from the NC State campus. Students and technical
staff have asked that we update and clarify the university's position
on the use of these resource-intensive programs.
NC State network policy has long been
that we do not censor Internet traffic except as may be appropriate
in response to official complaints and in the case of illegal activity.
Part of our mission is to foster student engagement and responsible
experimentation with the latest technologies. Thanks in part to our
high-speed campus network and our ResNet program, students in on-campus
housing have formed an informal but lively learning community which
we see as a significant educational opportunity at NC State. We are
very reluctant to censor these activities.
Illegal activity is of course forbidden
on the NC State network. This is clearly stated in the rules and regulations
governing personal use of NC State’s computing systems and network.
These regulations are widely distributed and published online. (See
North Carolina State University Administrative Regulations, section
III, Personal Use, http://www.ncsu.edu/policies/informationtechnology/REG08.00.2.php,
Although the peer-to-peer file sharing
programs are not illegal, they can be used for the illegal downloading
and distribution of audio, video, software and other files. Downloading
or distributing material without permission of the copyright holder
is a violation of federal and state law, even if it is not for profit.
The penalties can be significant, including imprisonment and fines.
Our refusal to censor access in no way condones violations of copyright
or intellectual property laws.
However, disproportionate bandwidth use
by certain file sharing programs are now affecting NC State's instructional,
research and business activities on the network. The problems are not
with the capacity of the campus network, but with off-campus gateways
to the commodity Internet. Communication Technologies (ComTech) and
the Information Technology Division (ITD) are taking steps to ensure
that education and research are not impaired. As part of these activities,
we may put limits on the bandwidth available to specific areas of the
campus network or on the amount of bandwidth allowed for particular
applications. More advanced network traffic management tools are being
developed so that the systems are not overloaded and campus resources
are equitably shared.
We ask users of KaZaA, Gnutella, Morpheus,
Audiogalaxy and similar file sharing programs to be aware of the heavy
burden these programs put on network resources and to be considerate
of other members of the NC State and off-campus network community. ResNet,
while not encouraging the use of peer-to-peer file sharing programs,
will provide guidelines on how to configure and use these applications
to conserve bandwidth use. See www.ncsu.edu/resnet/help/p2p/
Finally, many do not understand that their
computer may become a server when they use peer-to-peer file sharing
programs. Most of these applications automatically start serving shared
files as soon as the computer is connected to a network, and most do
not stop the server portion of the application when the user exits the
main program. Instead, the server remains active while the computer
is on, and users are often unaware that they are sharing files even
when away from their computers. With some programs, it is very easy
for users to share portions of their hard drives that could easily expose
them to intruders who could download password files, various cached
files and other personal information.
ITD Computing Services and ResNet will
continue to provide guidelines on how NC State network users can protect
their personal information and participate in the network computing
environment in legal and responsible ways.
See also Napster
statement, issued in 2000
Back To Computer and Network Use
Regulations and Rules