Oxford University takes a dislike to Spotify, bans it

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Oxford University has taken a fairly drastic measure against music startup Spotify. It’s banned it.

The University’s computing services, OUCS, says the service is using too much bandwidth for their networks to handle. But no warning was given and students are understandably rather annoyed.

Finola Holyoak, a first-year student at Lincoln college says “I was shocked when I realised there was a total ban.”

Given that universities have traditionally been a hotbed of file-sharing (Napster was famously created when Sean Fanning was at college), one might think that Oxford University would want to promote a service that legally allows students to listen to a very large catalogue for free – rather than swapping eachother’s MP3 files.

  • http://danieltenner.com Daniel Tenner

    Oxford itself was quite a hotbed of file sharing. In fact, for a while, we had our very own Gnutella client (called Oxtella). The Gnutella protocol works great when all the machines are on a 100MBit network together.

    Then, one day, some hack thought it’d be great to write an article about it in the “Oxford Student” (one of the two major student papers). As a result, OUCS had to move in and block Oxtella, as a public gesture. I’m pretty sure they were ok with it running as long as no one made too much noise about it.

    I’m sure the students will find other ways to obtain the music they want to listen to… they always have :-)

  • http://www.devolute.net devolute

    Totally understandable. If students are swapping each other’s MP3 files, they’re doing it within the LAN and not using any precious external bandwidth. Universities in this country are notoriously stingy when it comes to this.

  • Kwyjibo

    How is this remotely newsworthy? Campuses ban software/services all the time if it eats up bandwidth.

    Imperial College networks killed off Steam and external P2P use. This is not unusual.

    • http://twitter.com/mikebutcher Mike Butcher

      It’s news because Spotify has a high valuation and a large institution banning it could affect this. We’re quite a business news focused site, you see.

      • Kwyjibo

        Only, I’ve just pointed out that institutions block services all the time – this is not remotely unprecedented or new.

        I mean, Imperial College blocking Steam? Blocking a video games service at a tech university?

        Headline stuff, surely.

      • http://www.fix-xbox360.com/ Xbox mania

        Students in University are not meant to have fun – They go for learning.. that’s what those uni says.

      • Charlie

        Just because it’s happened before, doesn’t mean TC shouldn’t be reporting it.

        Mike Butcher is right, this could affect Spotify’s value, and is probably of interest to (at the very least) people involved with Spotify, for this reason.

        Or are you suggesting that only one robbery in the history of news should ever have been reported, and any subsequent store thefts should have been disregarded because they happen “all the time” ?

    • David Mulder

      May I point out that Oxford is one of the four most important universities in the world (unlike the one you mention, of which I have never heard)

  • http://beautifulemails.com Mohammad Koubeissi

    Hmmm, that’s why living off campus is the way to go.

  • http://www.whiteoctober.co.uk John Wards

    We have had to ban it in our office except on one machine as the amount of outbound bandwidth it uses.

    The one machine has had its bandwidth limited so it doesn’t take down the network. Spotify can take our broadband to its knees if its not limited.

    Spotify need to limit outbound bandwidth on its clients or at least give us the option to do it ourselves.

    • Adam

      That’s what tools like QoS are for. If you’re worried about it eating up bandwidth then set some filtering rules to lower the traffic’s priority. Same applies to P2P.

      A properly configured network won’t care.

      • webstem

        QoS is the exact reason that I can’t figure out why this is a new story.

  • IronM@sk

    Fair enough. I pay for the internet connection in my house, so if everybody else was hogging the bandwidth with internet streaming services i’d bann the fkers too.

    If they want bandwidth they can bloody well pay for it. Some may argue that these students do in fact pay for that service through their course fees, but i’m sure you will all agree that that right should extend to educational purposes only.

    Life’s a bitch kiddies. Deal with it. Buy CD’s.

    • http://www.leestone.co.uk Lee Stone

      That’s a valid comment if they’re using it in academic areas, but if it is also affecting halls, then they usually stick a broadband cost into the rent – such as £10 extra a month (although this does become hidden amongst the usual accommodation costs).

  • http://www.pocketinfo.net Robert Latchford

    Makes sense to do this unless the students are contributing a direct fee to the service – pity they can’t compress the bandwidth in some way.

    Most people work better with Music around them.

    • john in minneapolis

      Classical musical. Yes. Music where the brain follows lyrics. No. Proven repeatedly over and over and over and over and over. There is about an 8-10% drop in learning comprehension.

      • Leafar

        So you probably mean “instrumental music” – yes. There is quite a lot of “classical” music where lyrics are involved – operas, oratorios, lieder – and quite another chunk of “modern” music where brain does not have to follow lyrics – jazz, soundtracks, electronic…
        I personally work great with my selection of Coltrane and Miles Davis…

  • http://www.chandospublishing.com Jonathan

    It’s no great surprise that consuming bandwidth at such a large institution would get noticed and promptly shut down. But what about storing your own music in your own cloud (the music you legally own that is) and sharing it with others?

    Check out http://www.psonar.com – it’s a new startup that wants you to put your legally-owned music in the cloud, share with others, create playlist (that type of thing) and it’s all free!

    Aside from Spotify (which opens a lot of doors to music you may not have heard) with live streaming you can always try your own online storage site.

  • dk

    My company blocked Spotify as well, it just led to people using Grooveshark, which is a browser based clone of Spotify.

    • Unul

      Spotify is a desktop clone of Grooveshark! Grooveshark is launched since 2007!

      • http://csistersmusic.com/blog/eng Vegar

        Not really. Spotify is 100% legal, unlike Grooveshark

  • http://addamaniac.com/ SEOリンク

    Similar things happened in my company. It annoyed me but had to accept it.

  • http://www.mmtdigital.co.uk Will Hawkins

    Building high speed networks is probably as important as, if not slightly more so, building new roads in the UK now to help our economy remain competitive.

    What with the poor state of service that is provided by the 3G network in the UK, the benefits that high speed internet can bring to individuals and organisations are going to be missed if our infrastructure fails to keep up with demand.

  • http://www.reelcorner.com/ Reel Corner

    This is not good but I think there will be a solution to this problem.

  • http://www.fryebootssale.net Frye Boots Fanatic

    That is quite a drastic measure by Oxford, and a huge defeat for legal measures of listening to MP3s. But understandably, websites like Spotify DO take up a lot of bandwidth — I’m guessing their execution could’ve been much better than simply just pulling the plug on the service.

    • http://fashionablelaptopbagsforwomen.blogspot.com/ Laptop Bags for Women

      How else could they have done it though? Back when I was in high school the administrators never failed to remind students that the use of Internet in school is a privilege, not a right. Although, I really do think they should have notified the students first.

  • iops

    For the ones who use Grooveshark, give a try to rockola.fm

    Nothing compares to it! :)

  • nenslo

    From personal knowledge, Oxford’s mantra is “if it’s P2P, we block it”… this includes BBC iPlayer.

  • Doug Winter

    Yeah, Spotify can absolutely cane bandwidth – the P2P part of it can be really quite troublesome.

    Shame really, it’s otherwise awesome.

  • http://www.ignimedia.com igniman

    Students downloading commercial music for pay? that’s absurd! they should be banned.

  • Daniel

    I’m sorry, this is really off the subject but I had to say something… Couldn’t you have spent like two more seconds on the cross on spotify’s logo? It looks like a three yearold drew it

  • Monkey Dance

    Such an over rated university.

    They’ll always remain – behind the curve.

  • T Underhill

    For the record, which UK University’s do actually allow P2P software then without any restrictions?

    • Shaun

      University of Manchester allow Spotify and Skype but not p2p for other purposes like torrenting, I’m not sure how they differentiate.

  • http://www.twitter.com/datalore_tv Datalore

    Well I have my persnal laptop connected to the wireless network and am running Skype, and on my college PC I am listening to streaming radio via iTunes… all right now :)

  • http://www.aguyinhisbasement.com Dan J

    I wonder how many of them were using the high bitrate feature? That could technically kill bandwidth, even for a school, if enough people used it.

  • Rachel Thompson

    Shame the quotes are so poor here. If it’s a business story, it seems to be disguised as something else. It’s unlikely the University is worried about file-sharing so much as keeping the network working properly.

  • http://musicindustryreport.org/?p=15954 Oxford University takes a dislike to Spotify, bans it


  • http://pniq.co.uk/2010/01/19/the-digital-week-9/ The Digital Week «

    […] Students at Oxford University are understandably nonplussed about the institution’s ham-fisted response to bandwidth problems caused by the widespread use by students of Spotify, the (wonderful) legal music streaming application: a complete ban. […]

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