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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: Universities overreacting? I think not.
By mdogs444 on 11/12/2007 7:38:29 PM , Rating: 2
There is more substantial evidence that college kids speed on campus than share files. Based on your biased argument schools could not exist, could not receive the funds at all because someone, somewhere, breaks some law.

Actually, its quite common for colleges to have their own "campus police" just for that type of infraction. Remember, that campuses do lie on city grounds, and their streets are stilled monitored by both campus & local police. So they are making a point to deter those actions. Your argument on that part makes no sense.

Just as enforcement agencies don't handle private networks, colleges aren't enforcement agencies. It is wrong to punish all students for the actions of a few which is exactly what the proposal aims to do, because we know it would cause large tuition increases. Essentially the end result is even worse than the prior proposal for a welfare system where the college just charges each student a media fee assuming they must all be infringing.

Im not saying I agree with all parts of the proposal. But I dont think that putting on filters and monitoring students abusing the intranet for file sharing is something that would punish the rest of the students.

The answer is to just say no. Special interest groups should not be in control of our legislature and especially not educational policies.

That I would agree to an extent, but lets not forget that often times the teachers themselves are part of those "special interest groups" Its well known that a majority of teachers do lean to the left and many of them have tendencies to preach that stance. So it does help to have special interest groups pushing back. For example, its wrong to teach the theory of evolution to every student when some students are religious. Its also wrong to force every student to study religion when they are not religious. If we left the decision up to the the teacher alone, we would then turn into a socilistic state in which whats right and wrong would be determined by one person - the teachers opinion.

RE: Universities overreacting? I think not.
By Spuke on 11/13/2007 12:59:14 PM , Rating: 2
Your argument on that part makes no sense.
Actually it makes sense. If you are caught speeding on campus, YOU get a ticket. Under this new act, if you are caught downloading illegal content, then the SCHOOL doesn't get its money and ALL of the students suffer.

Both are illegal acts but the punishment for one of them is greatly exaggerated. I would say that speeding on campus is worse given the close proximity of students on foot and the possibility of property damage.

Why won't the government retain the schools funding for speeding? Why is downloading illegal content worse than endangering the lives of others?

By clovell on 11/13/2007 5:21:31 PM , Rating: 1
No no - the bill doesn't really say that. It says that if schools don't act to detect and prevent illegal file-sharing as per certain guidelines, they won't get funding. that's very different from cutting off funding to a school who catches a student illegally sharing files.

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