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Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Resource Sharing

5. Further information

5.1. Streaming media

Audio and video streams rely on a traditional client-server model, and can only be played on systems directly connected to the Internet on a sufficiently fast connection (generally domestic broadband or better). Many sites provide content in such forms, including traditional broadcasters such as the BBC, or internet companies such as Youtube. These streams are generally played through tools such as Realplayer, Adobe Flash or Microsoft Silverlight (often in the form of web browser plugins).

Such streamed content is not using peer-to-peer technology; nevertheless some colleges or departments may have local policies which restrict usage of such systems. Please check with your IT officer if you are unsure. Please bear in mind that video streams do consume significant bandwidth, and if enough users are simultaneously watching streaming video then this may be detrimental to the overall performance of the network. In particular, a high-bandwidth video stream can easily overwhelm a wireless network.

5.2. Licensing

Please note that watching television programmes online as they are being broadcast requires a television licence: see TV Licensing for further information. Watching recordings of programmes after they have been broadcast, whether as streaming media or downloads, does not require a television licence.

Playing of music, irrespective of the source, may be subject to licensing by the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society/Performing Rights Society alliance. This serves to collect royalties on behalf of their members for playback of music under their copyright, whether for public performance or playback in locations such as offices, lecture theatres, etc. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are suitably licensed.

5.3. Remote access services

Please be aware that the IT regulations apply to all usage of the University network. Remote access services such as VPN and allow users outside University or college buildings to send all their network traffic via the University network. Any peer-to-peer applications left running will therefore be running over the University network and subject to University IT regulations.

5.4. Wireless networks

Wireless network provision is not considered to be a replacement for wired networking, and within the University installation of wireless networking has typically been concentrated on communal areas such as meeting rooms, common rooms and lecture theatres. Available wireless bandwidth is severely limited relative to wired networks and may be shared between a large number of users. Transfer of large volumes of data should be performed over wired network infrastructure where possible.

On centrally-provided University wireless networks, data rates are restricted in order to provide a fair service to all users; typical access speeds will be comparable to domestic broadband. Note that peer-to-peer networking is not specifically forbidden but will be severely rate-limited.

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Maintained by: OUCS Webmaster (webmaster@rt.oucs.ox.ac.uk) July 2010. Robin Stevens, based upon an original document by Peter Higginbotham.
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