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Universities that don't, or won't, comply with copyright takedowns could risk losing government funding

The College Opportunity and Affordability Act (PDF) is a monster of a document, weighing in at 747 pages. The bill aims to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965, and buried deep inside is a nasty secret sponsored by the entertainment industry: universities would be required to help fight piracy or risk the loss of federal funding.

One section of COAA would force universities to publicly disclose their policies and procedures relating to copyright enforcement, and to develop plans for exploring “technology-based deterrents” and alternatives -- like Napster or the ad-supported Ruckus service. These requirements would be backed up with federal grant money, which would be authorized for the purchase and implementation of whatever programs a university may try to implement.

Another section of the bill is more familiar, as it bears a striking similarity to some additions attempted in the Higher Education Amendments of 2007. Under the new text, universities would be required to annually inform students of the “civil and criminal liabilities” of file sharing, provide a summary of the consequences for violating copyright laws, and provide a description of the university’s disciplinary policies if they’re caught.

Universities would also be required to tell students about the various countermeasures they may use to “prevent and detect” unauthorized file sharing.

University officials have been understandably alarmed, as the above provisions would put a potential $100 billion each year in federal aid at risk; failure to comply would cause the school to lose all of its financial aid for students, affecting even those students who don’t own a personal computer.

In a letter written on Wednesday and signed by the presidents of Stanford University and Penn State, and the chancellor of the University of Maryland system, university officials wrote:

Such an extraordinarily inappropriate and punitive outcome would result in all students on that campus losing their federal financial aid--including Pell grants and student loans that are essential to their ability to attend college, advance their education, and acquire the skills necessary to compete in the 21st-century economy … lower-income students, those most in need of federal financial aid, would be harmed most under the entertainment industry's proposal.

Officials also noted that while the higher education systems does indeed recognize the “seriousness of the problem of illegal peer-to-peer file sharing,” it noted that schools and universities represented only a “small fraction” of the overall P2P ecosystem.

University leadership is overreacting, said the MPAA, and noted that schools that actively implement P2P counter-measures see far fewer copyright complaints — sometimes as little as zero per month.

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I love deceptive legislation names
By JasonMick on 11/12/2007 3:26:16 PM , Rating: 5
The College Opportunity and Affordability Act <- HA!

This reminds me of the Bush administration's "Clear Skies" proposal, which cut air quality protection set in place with the Clear Air Act.

I think the sign of true political zen mastery is being able to take a bill which is completely despicable, like the one in this article, retitle it into something that sounds all nice and happy and get it passed.

Sort of like if you had a bill for taxing everyone on walking down the city street and you called in the "Clean and Safe Streets Proposal".

Ah to be a politician....

By TomCorelis on 11/12/2007 3:40:01 PM , Rating: 3
Well the file-sharing part of the bill amounts to maybe 2 pages out of the total 747. It covers most everything as it adds a lot to the Higher Education Act.

RE: I love deceptive legislation names
By clovell on 11/12/07, Rating: 0
RE: I love deceptive legislation names
By mdogs444 on 11/12/2007 3:53:51 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, lets not get into that scam. childrens health insurance my a$$

RE: I love deceptive legislation names
By mcnabney on 11/12/2007 11:36:16 PM , Rating: 5
The US Congress.

The best congress that money can buy.

RE: I love deceptive legislation names
By stmok on 11/14/2007 6:06:37 AM , Rating: 2
From what I hear, US politicians rarely read these Bills.

A trick that some use, is that they set the draft out really early in the morning. Since no one reads the Bill in the morning, it gets passed onto to someone else who doesn't give a damn.

Of course, it also helps if you make "financial contributions" to a senator's campaign. :)

RE: I love deceptive legislation names
By Polynikes on 11/12/2007 4:17:25 PM , Rating: 2
Well it's the politicians who vote on this crap, and most of them know all about nasty details like that embedded in the bill.

The simple fact of the matter is, they don't care, so they pass it. The name is irrelevant to them.

RE: I love deceptive legislation names
By Ringold on 11/12/2007 4:36:10 PM , Rating: 4
Oh, they care -- about campaign contributions, which is probably how this was inserted.

Reminiscent of how the national drinking age of 21 is enforced; if its not state law then the spigot for highway money is closed.

RE: I love deceptive legislation names
By rudy on 11/12/2007 6:21:05 PM , Rating: 2
What does the drinking age have to do with campaign contributions. I think that the alchohol companies could beat anyone for controbutions. And they would probably want less enforcement and lower drinking ages.

By Ringold on 11/12/2007 7:36:17 PM , Rating: 2
I was refering, in the second sentence, purely in the way in which this rule is being enforced. If it were the same idea, I'd of probably not skipped a line. Microparagraphs?

RE: I love deceptive legislation names
By TomZ on 11/12/2007 6:07:10 PM , Rating: 4
Well it's the politicians who vote on this crap, and most of them know all about nasty details like that embedded in the bill.

Actually it's pretty well known that politicians rarely ever read the legislation they are voting on. Pathetic if you ask me.

RE: I love deceptive legislation names
By Ringold on 11/12/2007 4:33:58 PM , Rating: 1
"The College Opportunity" <snip>

If I apply to a university, with a given set of grades, testing scores and other pieces of background information, and anyone other than a non-white male also applies with identical grades, scores and similar background, guess who gets in? In many universities it's not a a coin toss; it's the minority. In fact, the white male could probably have slightly better scores, and depending on how race is weighted, he could still get shafted.

Still, it's basically a meritocracy. I see no problem here..

"and Affordability Act" <snip>
The substantial evidence has been that by throwing cheap subsidized loans, grants, and other forms of financial aid at college students has simply fueled the wild above inflation rate rise in tuition costs. Are you suggesting throwing more money at it, such that those that don't qualify for government hand outs pay even higher rates, especially out of state kids? More easy money just desensitizes kids and families to the cost, keeping demand at expensive instiutions high, giving none of them an incentive to keep costs low. Does it remind you of health care? It should.

The extreme, like France, where its essentially free and open to everybody, just produces mediocrity by the class full.

Of course, any Act, bill, or legislation that is 700 pages long is a monstrosity, probably made so long in the hopes that the public never understands it, but still. Things arent bad. I'm just assuming from your ire you think the systems borked.

From the Chairman of the Education and Labor committee:

Streamline the federal student financial aid application to make it easier for all eligible students, especially from low-income households, to apply for financial aid;
Make textbook costs more manageable for students by helping them plan for textbook expenses in advance of each semester;
Expand college access for low-income and minority students by allowing students to receive year-round Pell Grant scholarships and strengthening college readiness programs;
Increase college aid and support programs for veterans and military families to help veterans, active duty military personnel, and their family members attend college and succeed;
Create safer college campuses for students and faculty by developing campus safety and disaster readiness plans for all colleges and helping schools recover and rebuild in the event of a disaster;
Ensure equal college opportunities and fair learning environments for students with disabilities to provide them with the resources and support they need to stay in school and graduate; and
Help strengthen our nation’s workforce and economic competitiveness by boosting science, technology, and foreign language educational opportunities, by providing public service loan forgiveness to encourage and reward students who enter critically needed service fields and by enhancing teacher training and development programs.

Throws more money at them and continues discrimination against white folk, but I'm probably in a minority as seeing this as bad. :P

RE: I love deceptive legislation names
By fk49 on 11/12/2007 4:53:29 PM , Rating: 3
and anyone other than a non-white male also applies with identical grades, scores and similar background, guess who gets in?

Just wanted to add that if the white male is up against any Asian American, whether from Eastern Asia, Southern Asia or Indian-subcontinent, the white male will get in. If being white is a neutral factor in decisions, being Asian seems to be a negative. It's making my life tough as I'm applying to colleges right now..

By clovell on 11/12/2007 5:10:21 PM , Rating: 2
Some of that has to do with the particular program you're applying for. Lots of unviersities try to fill some sort of racial quota to be diverse. As such, competition for admittance is stratified across race - which for fields like say, mathematics, can raise the bar for Asian applicants far above that for white applicants.

By mindless1 on 11/12/2007 6:21:16 PM , Rating: 2
You have it backwards.

RE: I love deceptive legislation names
By Exodus220 on 11/12/2007 6:22:17 PM , Rating: 2
You would have to supply me with factual evidence that supports your idea that it is more difficult for Asians to get into college before I would consider this an intelligent statement. Currently I just hear somebody crying about their ethnicity...and I hate hearing ethnicities always complaining their problems on the white man - just pathetic.

In many places the Affirmative Action plan is unconstitutional (California did away with it recently) because it discriminates against whites and in certain situations made it more difficult for them (Caucasian) to be hired or admitted.

By Master Kenobi on 11/12/2007 6:37:14 PM , Rating: 3
Works that way here in the DC area, females and minorities are given first shot at hired positions with many companies. When I apply I better be able to rock my competition by a mile or I won't get it.

By Ringold on 11/12/2007 7:38:34 PM , Rating: 2
Your experience manages to be the polar opposite of every asian friend I had going in to college, not just in admission but in financial aid.

I think you might be doing something wrong, bud, if equivalent white males are beating you. It's a fact; non-white males get extra points at most universities in the rubric used to sort those who are accepted from those who are not.

By ScythedBlade on 11/12/2007 5:10:35 PM , Rating: 3
No, you're actually LUCKY.

In response, take a Asian kid from the New York City Stuyvesant High School, ranging in around 60% Asian Population. Details aside, most of the kids are overqualified, but still don't get in. GGed ... I'd wish I was white XD.

But, race aside, this is a really, really, crappy bill. We all don't like the RIAA and MPAA ... Economics withstanding, it'd be better for less enforcement. Clearly, music's a pretty elastic good.

RE: I love deceptive legislation names
By Haltech on 11/12/07, Rating: 0
By Ringold on 11/12/2007 7:40:32 PM , Rating: 2
I was probably within 5% of some of the people I graduated with, and for a whole set of people applying during one year there are likely some matches, but I was refering to the extra weight given to race in the admissions process.

RE: I love deceptive legislation names
By Ringold on 11/12/2007 7:57:46 PM , Rating: 1
I like how my post hit -1 at warp speed, but asides from two asians voicing an opinion roundly rejected by other people as being out of the ordinary, not a single post as to where I went off track.

I looked at several links, but this one fits best; note somewhere between page 20 and 30 the mention that as the required average SAT score for admission goes up, the reliance on racial consideration goes up as well. Also, looks like roughly 40% of universities still discriminate based upon race -- and I don't mean against minorities.

All the other links were primarily legal scholars or activists pointing out that affirmitive action is state sanctioned racism and, beyond being unconstitutional, is divisive.

The economics I wont go further to defend; if throwing money being inflationary doesn't make sense to someone then it's beyond my ability to help. Likewise, if one thinks college shouldn't be a meritocracy, then we would simply be so far apart in ideology as to not possibly be able to find a middle ground.

RE: I love deceptive legislation names
By bobbronco on 11/12/2007 9:10:24 PM , Rating: 3
if throwing money being inflationary doesn't make sense to someone then it's beyond my ability to help.

Actually, government subsidies primarily at the state level are largely responsible for keeping tuition at many public universities in check. -Don't belive me? Look up the details behind nearly every state budget. So, quite the opposite to your point could be argued as well.

By Ringold on 11/13/2007 12:39:54 PM , Rating: 2
My quote you selected was directed dead-center at student loan subsidies, pell grants, and so forth; student aid, an indirect funding of colleges. There's a reason every student probably every year fills out FAFSA -- and what does the second F stand for? Yep. Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

That said, yes, I'm aware of states heavily funding colleges. I never said otherwise. In fact, the source of the free money from which ever level of government doesn't particularly matter to my argument; inflationary pressure is inflationary pressure.

By Adonlude on 11/14/2007 1:09:06 PM , Rating: 2
It is disgusting that we still practice affirmative action in this country. How can anyone take racism/discrimintation, rename it to "affirmative action" and act like it is a good kind of racism/discrimination?

By phil126 on 11/12/2007 8:23:11 PM , Rating: 1
If you have a hard time, go to grad school (in a technical field). US univeristies will throw money at you if you are a domestic student white or otherwise.

By Terberculosis on 11/12/2007 5:24:41 PM , Rating: 3
Current Congress is Doubleplusgood double speaker.

By Screwballl on 11/13/2007 9:57:02 AM , Rating: 2
yep... someone got paid off here...
The problem is that the universities can block this in one swipe if they chose to. Any packet of the bittorrent or file sharing type and its blocked before it ever reaches the students computer.
Lets hope that portion gets killed before it really causes a problem.

By encryptkeeper on 11/13/2007 2:06:55 PM , Rating: 2
I think the sign of true political zen mastery is being able to take a bill which is completely despicable, like the one in this article, retitle it into something that sounds all nice and happy and get it passed.

The Patriot Act.

By GlassHouse69 on 11/14/2007 1:43:14 AM , Rating: 2
clear skies is the new STALKER game comming out soon.

It is about the village of Chernobyl



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