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.
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
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.
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.