Copyright Silliness on Campus
This Washington Post article discusses the intensity of the RIAA in their fight against illegal downloading of music and movies. The article explains how the Record Industry Association of America is questioning 19 major American Universities regarding their actions against students who download. One of the major questions being asked is whether or not these universities are expelling students who practice peer-to-peer file sharing and illegally download. The RIAA claims that certain universities are not expelling enough students for these causes. It seems that even with the RIAA attempting to control universities, they continue to sue and threaten individual students. The monitoring techniques the RIAA wants universities to utilize are not only costly, by also ineffective. Students will be able to outsmart the monitoring system either through the internet or simply with blank CDs and hard drives. Music and movies can be shared even with the RIAA’s “copyright hall monitor”. This article recommends a blanket license that would allow students access to music and movies from whatever source they choose. This blanket license would be similar to that used by universities for a cappella groups that perform on campus and cable television subscriptions. The article concludes claiming that universities have more important things to worry about than the RIAA’s fight for money.
This article supports my thesis. It provides a variety of reasons why the RIAA is losing control over their copyright battle. Not only is the RIAA threatening students, but it is also attempting to discipline major American universities who do not follow suit in acting against their own students. The author offers another option of blanket fees as opposed to suing every student and threatening universities. This way of handling the file-sharing phenomenon supports my own argument for promoting awareness as opposed to financially attacking students.
Bill would force “top 25 piracy schools” to adopt anti-P2P technology
Senator Reid promotes a bill that would support the RIAA by creating a ‘blacklist’ of schools with the highest number of illegal downloaders. The article discusses how the plan would prevent funding of the top 25 illegal downloading schools. These universities would then be forced to create and prove that they have created a technological way of stopping file-sharing. The article also gives a prominent flaw of the plan, quesioning how the RIAA and MPAA would collect and represent their data since there would be a huge difference between schools with 70,000 students than those with 2,000. Basically, they would be getting their money from the larger state schools, and therefore the taxpayers. The article also contains a quotation from the Digital Freedom Campaign which simply put, says that our universities have more important things to do than spy on their students. The article concludes with an update stating that the bill has been dropped for now.
This article supports my thesis and confirms the idea that the RIAA is taking their fight too far. The information this article provides helps to prove that universities’ involvement should be minimal, if only because the other options are ridiculous. Putting schools on a ‘blacklist’ seems threatening and more similar to a way to make money from larger schools than it is to help artists. The sense of desperation portrayed in this article on the side of the RIAA aids my argument for less force on the universities since the RIAA's plan to involve universities is overflowing with flaws.
College funding bill passed with anti-P2P provisions intact
This article discusses the context of the Higher Education Act passed by the senate and house that includes new provisions requiring universities to execute a traffic filtering system that would prevent students’ peer-to-peer file sharing and also to give students access to more commercial downloading services. The amendment requires universities to inform students about file sharing issue, but also to make sure that all the universities have plans to reduce illegal file sharing. The article discusses not only the amendment, but also the positions taken by the involved parties. It claims that the RIAA and MPAA had been pressuring congress but that the passing of this bill may not slow down their drive. The article concludes saying that many institutions worry about this bill is that it will only expand to allowing the government to penalize schools for a number of things including not policing their students file sharing.
This article provides information that prevents the possibility for universities to remain legally neutral in the peer-to-peer battle. Although the bill makes universities involvement necessary, universities’ actions regarding file sharing among students should be at the discretion of universities if at all. The article is important for my topic because it presents the worry of universities in response to the new bill. It also provides information contextualizing the RIAA’s actions and the motivation for creating and passing the bill which is important for my topic. The article's points questioning how far the RIAA wil push this and the worry this causes universities relates to my topic that this is a legitamite concern for universities.
University of Chicago File Sharing Policy and November 2007 Memorandum from the Vice President and Chief Information Officer to the Campus:
The University of Chicago’s Eligibility and Acceptable Use Policy for Information Technology includes that students comply with their copyright and file sharing laws. The policy asks that students prohibit themselves from participating in peer-to-peer file sharing software as well as not sharing other copyrighted materials through the University network. On their file sharing policy website, the University gives a few different links to the dangers of file sharing and also, how to disable a peer-to-peer file. The letter sent out to the school by the Vice President of the University, has a similar structure to the school’s policy. He reminds students that violating the copyright law has serious consequences, both legal and otherwise, and presents the “no longer hypothetical” situation by claiming that some students have already been sued. He also states that the University complies with valid subpoenas asking for student’s identities.
The policy of the University of Chicago represents a standard, and for my topic, improved university stance on file sharing. They provide information, and comply increasingly with the RIAA and government. They encourage their students not to use peer-to-peer file sharing while presenting them with links and other ways to inform themselves. Unlike Stanford, University of Chicago’s policy has not, as of yet, lead to fines for any students. Neither, however, is it on the opposite end, like the University of Maine who does not, by any means, wish to be the government’s ‘spy’. This information helps to answer my question of how universities are handling the growing pressure from the RIAA and the government while still promoting education and placing their students first.
One University Refuses To Pass On RIAA File-Sharing Letters, But The Rest Play Ball
This article discusses how the University of Wisconsin has gone against the RIAA’s request to identify students who the RIAA finds have participated in illegal downloading. The RIAA wants to use Internet Protocol/IP addresses from university networks to give individuals a chance to come forward without their names being involved. The difficulty with this arises from the fact that the university cannot know which student is actually doing the illegal downloading, especially when rooms are shared and one port is used. The University of Wisconsin argues that it does not want to be a middle man in this situation, stating that it is inappropriate. This system of locating individuals by the universities is not legally required, but the article points out that many administrators believe it is beneficial to students since it gives them the opportunity to settle.
This article aids my topic, because it provides information regarding a method that gives universities the option to aid its students, without making it a legal necessity. It still has its flaws like the overall threats involved in the lawsuits, but it would be preferable for universities to have an option rather than be forced into action by loss of funding and legal issues. This article also provides the opinion of the University of Wisconsin and presents how they are handling the RIAA’s pressure differently from most other institutions. The University of Wisconsin's position could be helpful in contrasting university policies.
The RIAA piracy fight makes it to the Ivy League
This article summarizes the RIAA’s stand on colleges and illegal downloading. The RIAA has sent letters to 16 campuses including the University of Pennsylvania, informing the schools that illegal downloading is occurring on their campuses. The letters however, do not single out the students and faculty members accused. This article also discusses the RIAA’s motivation behind lawsuits. They say that lawsuits are not desirable, but are necessary considering the continuous downloading and the costs especially from students. Apparently, “college students accounted for more than 1.3 billion illegal music downloads last year”, leading to more than $2 billion in lost wages. The RIAA also argues that students would not use the ‘best practices’ when the alternative is free, leading them to believe that the lawsuits are completely necessary.
This article offers opposition to my thesis, giving the RIAA’s point of view. By giving the information regarding the number of students who download illegally as well as the impact on revenue and jobs, college students are obviously an important aspect in the RIAA’s fight against illegal downloading. It also proves the serious nature of the RIAA’s battle because they have begun to go against larger and more financially powerful schools, such as the Ivy League as opposed to focusing just on the individuals. The universities who receive these letters from the RIAA are important to my topic because their situation exemplifies the changing nature of the reaction to file sharing. The RIAA has become so paranoid about college students file sharing that it is now pressuring universities to become involved.
The RIAA piracy fight makes it to the Ivy League
Music Industry Tightens Squeeze on Students; Campus Network Access Targeted
This article provides information focusing on the RIAA’s new tactic in its “never-ending effort to crack down on pirated music”. Mainly, that the RIAA is reaching new levels in their attempts to end piracy by singling out universities as being either heavily trafficked schools or effective in preventing file-sharing among their students. Those with the most file-sharing are Ohio and Purdue, and the RIAA seems to believe that by pressuring these schools, the number of peer-to-peer sharing among students will decrease. On the other hand, UCLA is one school whose policies against illegal downloading is approved by the RIAA. UCLA has suspended students who repeatedly break the school’s policies, giving the RIAA strong support. At schools where students are active downloaders, those caught receive letters from the RIAA warning them about a possible lawsuit since they practiced illegal downloading. Although peer-to-peer file sharing continues, the article states that lawsuits have been an effective tool by basically scaring students out of file-sharing.
On the one hand this article supports my argument because the author demonstrates the severity of the RIAA’s threats. However it also shows that lawsuits and the school’s involvement in these cases does make a difference, even if only by scaring the students. It also presents information describing how differently universities have responded to the file sharing. UCLA presents an interesting and very different response by suspending those students who are repeatedly caught participating in peer-to-peer file sharing. This information about UCLA's policies would be valuable as comparison for schools who are either against monitoring file sharing among students, or even those which seem to be doing the bare minimum.
RIAA v. U: The state of file-sharing on campus
This article discusses the actions taken by Missouri’s University of Science and Technology. The University decided to make a quiz on the effects and legal issues of peer-to-peer file sharing pop up on a student's computer screen if they attempt to make an illegal download. This way, the students cannot claim ignorance if they are able to pass the quiz and remove the block on their downloading and are informed of the consequences of their actions. “Be Aware Your Uploading” or BAYU is given as another option for giving students the information they need to avoid ‘accidental downloading’. It acknowledges the fact that not all students are technologically savvy and know exactly what they are doing on the internet. BAYU gives students a warning that they are downloading illegally before they complete the download. The article also discusses the policies adopted by Stanford, Ohio University, University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of Minnesota. The article then states the positions of IT’s and Educause (the group that represents the IT’s) as having serious problems with both the RIAA and total blocking of peer-to-peer. Mainly because the IT’s, like most who work with students, care about the students' education and the internet's role in education has been greatly increasing. The next section of the article provides information regarding how much university students are actually involved in file sharing, and the likelihood that colleges are not actually facilitating this illegal behavior. It claims that the file sharing would start anew each year with the incoming freshman class because of high school experience with downloading.
The article provides valuable information for my question of how universities are handling the RIAA’s increasing demands to impede file sharing. It presents the differing actions and policies implemented by universities, such as BAYU and the pop quizzes before downloading takes place. These different courses taken by the different universities could support my argument that it would be best for universities to provide information for students. The universities’ policies give examples and possible options for file sharing on campuses to be controlled without putting universities against their students.
Curb Illegal Downloading on College Campuses Act of 2007
The goal of this bill is to combat illegal downloading on university campuses. In the ‘findings’ section of the bill, it states that illegal downloading of a variety of mediums are used and have been used increasingly on university and college campuses. It also claims that peer-to-peer file sharing puts a strain on the university and costs the university money. Congress also finds that illegal downloading puts the university networks at a higher risk of being infected with computer viruses. The last point made in congress’ findings is that programs that stop illegal downloading can do so without violating the privacy of students or their academics. The bill also amends the ‘Higher Education Act’ of 1965 by adding support for pilot programs and policies that reduce the amount of illegal downloading.
This bill that was introduced in the House is valuable to my topic because it provides congress' standings on the relationship between universities and file sharing. The bill demonstrates that congress recognizes the downfalls of file sharing, not only from a legal standpoint but also from the effect it has on universities. Although the bill supports the fight against illegal downloading, it does not necessarily make universities responsible, nor does it directly support the RIAA.
RIAA vs. The People: Four Years Later
This entry from the Electronic Frontier Foundation provides information about the pressures on universities from the RIAA. It explains that the threat to universities’ students makes it probable for universities to become involved. The entry also states that because the letters are sent to the universities before a lawsuit actually begins and is instead only under the threat of legal action, the universities have no legal obligation to forward the letters to students. Most universities have complied with the RIAA’s desire for them to forward the letters informing students of their impending lawsuit and the option of the $3,000 settlement fee. However, there are universities that side on either extreme by refusing to forward the letters, or creating their own policies to prevent illegal downloading. The Universities of Wisconsin and Maine have refused to forward on the letters, claiming that they do not want to be the RIAA’s “legal agent”. Stanford has taken the opposite stance, and fines student if complaints of their offenses are received with a fine for $1,000 for a third offense.
This entry supports my thesis, showing that universities should and may have a choice in how to handle the RIAA’s incessant demands. Even though the students may get the worse end of the deal, it should be under the jurisdiction of the college in deciding whether to be involved or not, mainly, by promoting awareness and not by controlling the situation themselves. The section explaining the pressures from RIAA and the government is also valuable for my topic. It gives a timeline and shows how the relationship between the three main groups (Universities, RIAA, and the government) has evolved which would be helpful in explaining the importance of the government's involvement.