November 20 2007
RIAA is now threating the funding of colleges and universities. If suing single moms for sharing 24 songs, or little girls wasn't enough, the RIAA and its lobbyists are trying to force colleges and universities to fight piracy and if they don't, they risk losing funding. So your hard earn tuition will go to resources to see if you are sharing the new Britney Spears album instead of education. RIAA is so desparate they are doing everything except evolving the business model.
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.
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.
If college wasn't expensive enough. What's next day care?
Also check this interesting article from Wired.com on the details of this plan to charge taxpayers to pay for music subscriptions for students at universities.
If there's a better place to share music than a university, I haven't heard about it. They offer students broadband connections, of course, and with so many peers around students must always have plenty ideas about the latest songs to download.
But even without the broadband connections, universities would still be near-ideal places to share music. The so-called sneakernet allows students to dump the contents of their iPods onto each others' computers. Or, you can fit about 1400 MP3s onto a single 4.7GB DVD-R disc.
That's why a clause in the College Opportunity and Affordability Act (COAA) makes so little sense. According to the Digital Freedom Campaign (part of the Consumer Electronics Association), the bill's Campus Based Digital Theft Prevention provision "would require every university receiving federal funds to purchase a subscription to a music download service as a way of preventing unauthorized downloads and file sharing on college campuses."
Digital Freedom accused the RIAA of having had one of its Congressional lobbying victims insert the clause, which it says would require taxpayers to spend $100 billion earmarked for financial aid on digital music subscriptions.