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‘A Terrible Precedent’

Officials at Ohio University say their recently enacted partial ban on peer-to-peer networking is working very well, but skeptics still argue that the institution will come to regret the aggressive policy.

Campus officials decided to prohibit peer-to-peer usage after Ohio placed first on the Recording Industry Association of America's list of institutions with song-swapping programs, released in February. According to Brice Bible, Ohio's chief information officer, the university is careful to let students continue to use peer-to-peer networks for legal file sharing.

But Ashwin Navin, president of the peer-to-peer service BitTorrent, is unconvinced by that claim. In an opinion piece for CNET News, he argues that the ban will have a "devastating effect" on Ohio's computer-science department, and a negative impact on the university's general enrollment:

By applying a short-sighted, arbitrary ban on a technology with so many redeeming uses, Ohio University has deprived its students, faculty, and staff of a powerful tool, as well as censored a treasure trove of information and entertainment that is not available through any means other than P2P. It has created an environment that doesn't prepare its people for the "real world" where P2P technologies are being adopted in powerful, constructive ways. Worse yet, the university's administration has set a terrible precedent for its staff on the desirability of seeking creative ways to support new technologies.

A question for CIO's and professors: If your college shut down peer-to-peer networking, would your computer-science program suffer? –Brock Read

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