I'm Sorry Son, You Don't Have Enough Financial Aid to Cover Your Entire Tuition Bill With These New RIAA Student-Activity Fees
Seeking to outsource its enforcement costs, the RIAA [Recording Industry Association of America] asks universities to point fingers at their students, to filter their Internet access and to pass along notices of claimed copyright infringement. … But these responses distort the university’s educational mission. They impose financial and nonmonetary costs, including compromised student privacy, limited access to genuine educational resources and restricted opportunities for new creative expression.”
You can’t legislate morality. You can’t effectively litigate it either, but perhaps you can purchase it–with a little help from your friends in the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology. That seems to be the opinion of the recording industry, which has somehow–and by that, I mean campaign donations–convinced Congress to threaten funding cuts for universities that don’t actively protect its business interests.
At a U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology hearing on campus file-sharing earlier this week, lawmakers called on college administrators to drop the hammer on illicit file swapping among students. “Illegal file-sharing isn’t just about royalty fees,” said committee chairman Bart Gordon (D., Tenn.). “It clogs campus networks and interferes with the educational and research mission of universities. It wastes resources that could have gone to laboratories, classrooms and equipment. And it’s teaching a generation of college students that it’s all right to steal music.”
Rep. Tom Feeney (R., Fla.), who is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee (which has jurisdiction over copyright laws), was even more incredulous over the issue, suggesting Congress withhold funding from institutions that don’t actively police their networks for copyright infringement. “We’re spending a good deal of federal resources in terms of helping universities with their technological improvements, directly and indirectly,” Feeney said. “Is it responsible for a Congress that wants to protect intellectual-property rights to continue to fund network enhancements for universities if some of those enhancements are indirectly being used in fact to promote intellectual-property theft?”
I dunno. Is it responsible for Congress to assume the role of CIO for higher education? Or to suggest that federal resources earmarked for technological improvements at universities be used instead on a file-sharing witch hunt? After all, as Gregory Jackson, chief information officer at the University of Chicago notes, college students might not be the problem here. “Media producers provide and protect their online wares inconsistently, incompatibly, inefficiently, inconveniently and incompletely,” Jackson told the hearing. “So long as the right thing remains more daunting, awkward and unsatisfying than the wrong thing, too many people will do the wrong thing.”