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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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RE: How?
By Lonyo on 11/12/2007 5:56:42 PM , Rating: 2
They shouldn't be able to dictate federal funding for educational institutions is what I mean.
I do understand that money means power means laws, but they shouldn't be able to affect funding for things like education.
I'm not saying piracy is good, but threatening to stop money for education because of piracy is also not good.

In the long run you could even argue it would lead to people who don't get the funding being unable to go to university, getting a lower paying job, and being less able to afford to purchase music/films/etc legally.

RE: How?
By mdogs444 on 11/12/2007 7:41:50 PM , Rating: 2
They arent threatening to cut off funds because someone committed piracy. They are threating to cut off funds if the institutions dont put in place a method to try and stop piracy from their intranets.

Big difference.

RE: How?
By Christopher1 on 11/12/07, Rating: 0
RE: How?
By mdogs444 on 11/12/2007 10:13:42 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, actually its a big difference between letting your students do whatever they want on YOUR intranet, or controlling what can be done on YOUR intranet.

Behind the times or not, and whether you and whoever else deem the product is worth the price is not the point. It's a free market, and supply/demand determine the prices.

You are quite wrong on who pirate. People pirate becuase they CAN, not be because they think the product is too expensive. Its easy, and readily available. Dont make excuses by trying to saying that $15 is so is expensive that no one can afford it. If they cannot afford $15, then music should be the last thing they are worrying about.

RE: How?
By Spuke on 11/13/2007 1:12:59 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, actually its a big difference between letting your students do whatever they want on YOUR intranet, or controlling what can be done on YOUR intranet.
I can see why there are so many "feel good" laws on the books. He's right, there is NO real way to stop this from happening. You simply create Wile E Coyote vs the Roadrunner situation. Each person or group (the students and the campus IT staff) continually "one-ups" the other, forever and ever, and NOTHING is accomplished other than someone, somewhere feels good about what's happening.

IMO, trying doesn't do anything and is worse than not doing anything. With trying, you waste time and money. Of course you'll attack this point so I will say this: if the MPAA and RIAA REALLY want something done about this, hire some supernerds to find a technical solution to this, THEN offer that solution to their customers (universities in this case).

Threats don't work, period. And jeopardizing our future education is just plain retarded. You and I both know that if this is passed, some future college WILL have its funding revoked even though they have proper measures in place to prevent illegal downloading.

RE: How?
By clovell on 11/13/2007 5:25:12 PM , Rating: 1
> Not a big difference, because there is NO foolproof or even half-assed way of doing that, in all reality.

The how are ISPs able to throttle bandwith to chronic P2P users? There must be some sort of method of detection...

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard
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