It's being reported that Oxford University, one of the UK's foremost academic institutions, has banned the use of music streaming service Spotify from its network. The University's computing services department, OUCS, has pinned the blame on the large amounts of data that the application uses.
While entirely legal, Spotify uses peer-to-peer filesharing techniques to achieve its lightning speed. Oxford University expressly bans any kind of P2P use on the network, stating: "...the unauthorised use of peer-to-peer resource-sharing software on machines connected to the Oxford University Network is prohibited".
On its ICT pages, the University clarifies its position towards Spotify very clearly, saying: "Spotify is a music streaming service. It relies on a peer-to-peer system for distribution of content, and its use is therefore forbidden on the University network".
Students, as might be expected, are up in arms. A first year music student told independent student publication Cherwell: "I use it loads. It's the most comprehensive collection of classical music in one place. Much better than Naxos". Another described the ban as "discrimination against music lovers".
While it's true that Spotify's streaming system is based on P2P, which can clog up networks, it's also relatively easy to configure a network to funnel traffic from particular applications into a narrower pipe, preserving bandwidth for more academic tasks.
If you're a student at Oxford, we'd love to hear how this has affected you. Drop us a comment in the box below with your thoughts on the policy.