INLS310: Resource controls (was "Entertainment Weekly")

   Joey sent his reply only to me by mistake; I am forwarding it to the
list with my reply, with his permission.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 1997 22:51:45 -0500 (EST)
To: macmw@ils.unc.edu
From: Joey Senat <jsenat@nr.infi.net>
Subject: Re: INLS310: Re: Entertainment Weekly

On Thu, 23 Jan 1997, Joey Senat wrote:

> Responding to John's previous message:
> Four student home pages were among the sites used by the DOJ in ACLU v.
> Reno because they contained "nekked ladies," etc. One of the four pages had
> already been taken down before the trial by a system administrator because
> it got too many hits and was slowing the school's system. But the student
> believed he was censored because of the content.
> So how would the system administrator, as John said, "restrict my usage so
> that other legitimate users are not at a disadvantage?" And yet at the same
> time protect the first user's speech? This isn't a rhetorical or smartass
> question. I agree it is a legitimate concern. I'm trying to figure out if
> it possible for technology at this point to be a solution and not a
> restriction on a new format for student expression?
> WJM> Are disk quotas (restrictions on the amount of disk space students
> WJM> can use) "censorship"?
>         I don't think so because the amount of disk space allocated to
> individual students would be the forum the school has provided for each
> student's expression.
> WJM> How about high traffic or processing capacity? For example, there
> WJM> is a non-SILS related site on ruby that accounted for 45% of all
> WJM> web traffic in the last month, with tens of thousands of hits, as
> WJM> well as a "fan page" on that generated another 3% of all web
> WJM> traffic. Can the school impose restrictions on these sites?
>         Could you explain what "non-SILS related" means? Are these
> non-student home pages? If they're created and maintained by non-students,
> they're certainly not protected as student expression. Are they there at
> the expense of student personal home pages? Do they have a contract? Or
> they paying for the service?

Let me see if I can clarify this without revealing the sites or their
creators. The highest-traffic site appears to have been originally created
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a SILS course. (The page
says it was, "Created as school project 7/94 and left fallow.") So, in
this sense, it is "SILS-related". However, none of the people involved are
currently students at SILS, to the best of my knowledge. By "non-SILS
related", I was referring to the content, in that it neither describes nor
refers to SILS activities or resources, in contrast to other student (and
former student) pages that describe how to create web pages at SILS, for

The "fan" page, on the other hand, has no indication that it was created
for class purposes. I am unsure if either of the two authors are currently
enrolled at SILS. And just to confuse things further, the page may
involve copyright violations for the images, sound files, and text it has.
(I assume that if the University stays out of determining content, the
creators of the site bear all liability for IP infringement.)

Joey, given this additional information, are you arguing that SILS has no
right to curtail these activities even if they are a) having a detrimental
impact on the performance of departmental computers, and/or b) infringing
upon the abilities of current SILS students to fulfill class requirements?

I assume that you would not object to a SILS policy of account and web
site removal when a person is no longer enrolled in or employed by the
school, but what about the fan page, if the creators are still students?
(I'm trying to avoid discussions of content, and focusing instead on
resource use. Keep in mind also that I'm not blaming anyone for
being popular; as the creator of a site, I can't control the *amount* of
use my site receives (i.e. its popularity); that's up to the market. I'm
merely curious about what recourse a sysadmin has if he can't restrict
use, but no one can get any work done due to system overuse.)

> WJM> Would it make a difference if they were commercial web sites (e.g.,
> WJM> students running businesses from their school web sites)?
>         Courts have said schools can't control advertising in
> student-produced newspapers. The Supreme Court historically has given a
> lower level of First Amendment protection to commercial speech, but that
> level has been on a fairly continuous climb.

So as a student, I could theoretically set up a site to sell software, for
example, and the University would be on shaky ground if it tried to stop
> BTW, thanks. I'm preparing one of my conference papers for submission to a
> publication and these kinds of discussions help me focus on it.
> *************************************************************
> *       Joey Senat                                          *
> *       Doctoral Student                                    *
> *       School of Journalism & Mass Communication           *
> *       University of North Carolina @ Chapel Hill          *
> *                                                           *
> *       Voice:  (910) 584-6172                              *
> *       E-Mail:  jsenat@email.unc.edu                       *
> *                                                           *
> *       1849 Stratford Road                                 *
> *       Burlington, NC   27217                              *
> *                                                           *
> *************************************************************

   W. John MacMullen............................http://ils.unc.edu/~macmw