Peer-to-peer software will be easier to access across the University beginning next week.
Oxford University Computing Services reversed its ban on file-sharing software such as Spotify last week as part of a wider revision of IT Regulations.
The amended regulations give each College IT Manager the power to authorise the use of peer-to-peer software in their own College. They say that P2P programmes “may be subject to additional regulation and restriction,” but only to prevent “excessive use of university network resources”.
OUCS Director Stuart Lee said the increasing number of useful P2P applications in recent years has prompted the department to reconsider its ban.
“In the past, a lot of P2P software was used by hackers to launch attacks on machines and networks. These applications are now coming from respected vendors and can be trusted,” he said.
The new regulations will come into force at the end of eighth week, according to intenally published journal Oxford University Gazette.
Josh Hopgood, IT Rep for St Peter’s JCR, said he fully supports the regulation change, as long as College IT officers restrict the use of harmful programmes such as Limewire or BitTorrent.
“OUCS easing up on the restrictions on distributed file-sharing networks is a sensible move towards allowing students to use some really good, powerful software,” Hopgood said.
But Ben Gazzard, JCR IT Rep at St Catz, said he was surprised by OUCS’s decision.
“It will be interesting to see how many colleges actually change their rules, and how many people mistakenly interpret this as permission or apathy towards using file sharing as a method to download files illegally,” he said.
Individual College IT officials are still considering how to implement the new rule at their own discretion.
James Dore, IT Officer at New College, said the College will consult with an IT Subcommittee to “determine a policy in due course”.
Rules at institutions including Cambridge and Durham continue to prevent students from accessing P2P software.