Thursday, September 13, 2007

Educators are on the wrong side of the copyright wars

In my nose-to-the-grindstone-administrative-box-ticking frenzy of recent weeks I failed to notice this piece in Reason magazine putting forward the theory that Educators are on the wrong side of the copyright wars

"Last month, the U.S. Senate passed legislation enlisting colleges in the effort to police peer-to-peer networks and file-sharing, in order to prevent "piracy" by students of music, movies, and for that matter, books.

One might wonder exactly why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid—who introduced the amendment to the Higher Education Reauthorization Act, then tempered it when there was an outcry from college administrators—is concerned about campus file sharing, other than a general commitment to fight crime. A cynic might suggest the entertainment industry's considerable patronage of the Democratic Party.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Reid's measure "called on the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America to draft annual lists of the 25 colleges receiving the most notices of copyright infringement. Those colleges would face a choice: Either use technological tools to block peer-to-peer file sharing, or risk forfeiting federal student aid.In other words, colleges would be put under the supervision of the RIAA and MPAA...

But this is a particularly egregious case because it enforces rules that are specifically inimical to education, and that run contrary the fundamental mission of a college or university—the sharing of information...the very essence of a university ought to place it in fierce opposition to demands that it police its students for the excessive sharing of information. On the contrary, colleges and universities ought to be working toward an environment in which information can be shared with more freedom."

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