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Colleges Risk Losing Federal Funding If They Don't Fight Piracy 285

Posted by Soulskill
from the arrr-me-hearties dept.
crimeandpunishment writes "The US government is making colleges and universities join in the fight against digital piracy by threatening to pull federal funding. Beginning this month, a provision of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 requires colleges to have plans to combat unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials on their networks. Colleges that don't do enough could lose their eligibility for federal student aid. 'Their options include taking steps to limit how much bandwidth can be consumed by peer-to-peer networking, monitoring traffic, using a commercial product to reduce or block illegal file sharing or "vigorously" responding to copyright infringement notices from copyright holders.'"
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Colleges Risk Losing Federal Funding If They Don't Fight Piracy

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  • Well (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 02, 2010 @03:54PM (#32779478)

    It IS college. You're supposed to learn crap, not leech crap. I learned that the hard way in high school...

    What gets me is why people want these crappy new songs and movies and would risk institutions' reputations to reach them.

  • Outsource it! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by achbed (97139) * <sd@ach[ ].org ['bed' in gap]> on Friday July 02, 2010 @04:02PM (#32779608) Homepage Journal

    As weird as this seems, the use of an external entity by a college or university to run their network might be a bypass to these requirements. The external entity would be responsible for the public computer labs and networks in the dorms, and would operate as a standalone ISP. This would put the network firmly in the hands of DMCA safe harbor provisions.

    The school could then operate their own network for teachers and approved research departments (possibly tunneling over the ISP's network between buildings, etc), and would allow the school to put in a firewall between the two networks and wash their hands of this sillyness.

  • A better method (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday July 02, 2010 @04:07PM (#32779684)

    Simply and directly pass all the costs off to the students. Tally up what all the hardware and maintenance will cost, the hiring of new staff to deal with it, etc. Make it a distinct line item highlighted in the costs. During orientation let students and parents know why it is there and what it is for, and helpfully provide them with congress critter contact info.

    I have a feeling that if parents started getting charged a $100/semester "anti-piracy fee" they'd be none too happy and more than a few would call up and scream at their reps.

    Remember that all the payouts and favours and such that Hollywood hands out to politicians are useful to them right up until the public gets mad and it'll cost votes. The second that happens, the politicians will forget all loyalties to them and vote as told, because what they REALLY like are the perks and power that come with being in office.

    Special interest groups that toss around lots of money get their way because the money is useful in getting elected and the perks are nice. However they get ignored when public opinion is massively against them.

  • Re:Actually (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 02, 2010 @04:16PM (#32779792)

    There are no performance targets to meet as to whether or not the plan will actually DO anything. Just another lip service campaign.

    There are no performance targets yet. These RIAA/MPAA knows enough to force change in small steps.
    Eventually they will require/force all institutions to use some kind of music subscription service that
    'rents' you the media as long as you keep paying. Then they'll be required to get a certain percentage
    subscribed to this which will force them to include it as part of the tuition fee. Within 10 years you'll
    have a generation of people having kids who 'expect' music to cost money per listen.

  • by murpium (1310525) on Friday July 02, 2010 @04:18PM (#32779816)
    Recent grad here. Our university has a closed network where each person has a unique IP. All the MPAA has to do is send the college an e-mail about it and your access is shut down and you have to write this really long letter about how sorry you are that you did that before they turn your internet back on again. Sometimes that's not enough. Apparently for a while RIAA was having some kids settling out of court for thousands of dollars. The MPAA and RIAA know colleges are an easy target because they have a much higher success rate of finding out exactly who was on the other end of that torrent.
  • Re:First? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday July 02, 2010 @04:24PM (#32779918) Journal

    Pretty much. The network belongs to the College and just like any other ISP, if they want to allow downloading they should be able to. The US Government should not be seeking to damage the educational institution, but then the Federal government is filled with tyrannical Oligarchs so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

    Sovyet Union meet European Union meet United States. Same difference.

  • Re:Well (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 02, 2010 @04:24PM (#32779932)

    LOL! You modded this guy as troll and he speaks nothing but rationality.

  • actually it does (Score:1, Interesting)

    by davidwr (791652) on Friday July 02, 2010 @04:25PM (#32779946) Homepage Journal

    Old budget:

    $50M in research grants

    New budget:

    $1M in research grants,
    $49M to be spent first for fighting piracy, and anything left can be spent on research grants, but only if your anti-piracy efforts are successful.

    That may not be written down anywhere but it's the de facto "funding formula."

  • by davidwr (791652) on Friday July 02, 2010 @04:31PM (#32780004) Homepage Journal

    My shoes are soft and I wear them, and I can carry a lot of data quickly if it's in a box full of 1TB hard drives.

    Oh, and yes, what passes for a Xerox machine [wikipedia.org] in my dorm really does have two drive connections and a "push to copy" button.

    *the above is fictitious but it is based on what really could happen

  • This is wrong (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 02, 2010 @04:41PM (#32780142)

    It is criminal that any one industry can withhold education as they see fit.

    The idea that Jane or Jack can't get engineering degrees because somebody downloads Battlefield Earth from a torrent site is disgusting.

    I'm a liberal, but I hate how so many Democrats are fully in with the entertainment industry lobbyists. It is disgusting.

  • Loopholes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 02, 2010 @04:53PM (#32780338)

    My university had a very easy way of dealing with this. If you were sharing infringing files over p2p networks, and someone tried went after you, they handed you over to them. p2p filesharing of infringing files on personal computers wasn't allowed.

    Of course, the administrators also understood that, for their classes, research, and personal life, students would need to be able to store and transfer large files. If the students wanted to use their own servers for that purpose, it would certainly be an interesting hobby, and should get funding and rack space as a university club. And if those students didn't want administrators looking at the servers, and password-protected the shares on them, it wouldn't really be appropriate for administrators to pry, even if the students gave the passwords to all other students. And if those students regularly transferred several gigabytes of data at a time, they were clearly just being diligent and enthusiastic students.

    Almost no one at the university used external P2P networks for illegitimate means... considering that there was the option of using the 100Mbps connection to the outside world, and risking getting caught, or the 1Gbps connection to on-site servers, and not risking anything. And if something wasn't on there, there was this odd tendency for public computers to have utorrent installed, download something, and then suddenly have it deleted after a large transfer to those servers. Of course, the administrators couldn't really do anything about it, since they didn't have cameras in the computer labs or anything, and it only happened once per torrent anyway.

    Really, they did everything one could expect them to do to combat p2p filesharing!

  • by hedwards (940851) on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:08PM (#32780518)
    A lot of them already did that. I know my alma mater did so years ago to deal with the problem of p2p using up all the bandwidth. They throttled it severely to make the network useful for all the other users.
  • Re:First? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:15PM (#32780584)

    This is bullshit

    What...federal student aid? Yeah.

    It has a net effect of raising tuition across the board (since the government just raises the available loan money every time the colleges decide they would like to charge more). And it also results in lots of people being burdened with lifelong debt for skills that the market doesn't want (a situation in which they would not be if the loan money wasn't available).

    Education used to be a means of upward social mobility. Nowadays it is just a means of keeping greater portions of the population in greater debt (with a few exceptions, of course).

  • Get RIAA to pay. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tinkerghost (944862) on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:31PM (#32780784) Homepage

    That would be my plan. I would design a very expensive plan that involve a lot of new, very expensive, border routers - oh, and a new logging server with failover backup. I think that should be in it's own building offsite - with an OC 3 or perhaps something bigger. Oh, and staffing. I think a crew of 6 for each shift should do it.

    I could probably rack up a $2-3M startup costs with $1+M/year operating fee. With my plan ready, I would tell them that I am only waiting for the copyright holders to finance it. What? They don't want to? Sorry, we can't justify spending that kind of money to police civil complaints. Guess we'll just have to follow the DMCA.

  • by elucido (870205) * on Friday July 02, 2010 @06:02PM (#32781096)

    Corporatists believe the corporations should become the new government. They are actually collectivists. Ayn Rand their philosophical leader called her inner circle the "collective". How can you claim to be for individual liberty if you believe in corporate person hood?

    Stop allowing collectivist corporatists pose as libertarians. They don't believe in individual liberty. They believe in corporate government or in the extreme case corporate monarchy which is actually a form of feudalism.

  • by thesolo (131008) * <slap@fighttheriaa.org> on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:50PM (#32782114) Homepage
    You can read the full text of the bill on the Library of Congress [loc.gov] website. Here is the offending piece:

    Section 493:

    29 The institution certifies that the institution

    A has developed plans to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including through the use of a variety of technology-based

    B will, to the extent practicable, offer alternatives to illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property, as determined by the institution in consultation with the chief technology officer or other designated officer of the institution.

    That said, language about it has been in there since the very first draft in 2007, Section 485:

    An annual disclosure that explicitly informs students that unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject the students to civil and criminal liabilities;

    2 a summary of the penalties for violation of Federal copyright laws;

    3 a description of the institution's policies with respect to unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, including disciplinary actions that are taken against students who engage in unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials using the institution's information technology system; and

    4 a description of actions that the institution takes to prevent and detect unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material on the institution's information technology system.

    The bill's primary sponsor, Rep. George Miller, doesn't appear to get any funding at all from the RIAA/MPAA according to OpenSecrets, so I'm guessing that language was put in place by one of the other 29 cosponsors, or by committee. I'd love to find out where that provision originated.

  • Re:hilarious (Score:3, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:10PM (#32782258) Journal

    >>>you libertarian retards want to DESTROY government, thereby freeing corporations up from pesky regulations, and able to rape your rights even more than they already do. wtf?
    >>>

    FLAW #1: Libertarians are not anarchists. They don't want to "destroy" government. They realize government is a necessary evil.

    FLAW #2: In the process of shrinking government, Libertarians would also revoke the government-issued corporate licenses (unconstitutional), so the corporations would no longer exist to rape us. What would be left are directly-owned proprietorships with full liability for the owner when he commits crimes against other citizens.

  • In my day..... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 03, 2010 @12:00AM (#32783398)

    ....the only computers on site where I attended were either in the computer labs (in)conveniently located in the obscure corners of the campus, accessible during only the most idiotic of time periods, or the administration building where the only (legitimate) access involved login using an employee number assigned by the financial aid department. While computers were permitted in the dorms, relatively few students could actually acquire one as it was a bit outside their budget. As for internet access? Well, since you COULD get a phone line installed, dial up was pretty much the option you had, or "sneakernet" to the computer labs. Quite a few of those computer literate at the time had a friend or two who lived in town on their own and as often as not, would be willing to host software parties in exchange for either a small fee or favors that sometimes involved access to campus resources. If the campus cops caught you doing anything you shouldn't on campus, they either suspended, fined, expelled you, or handed you over to the city cops, who would then issue a citation, and/ or jail you depending on the infraction.

    Nowadays, the options would likely be a bit more flexible. Larger number of students owning their own systems, likely portables, getting together at the local fast food outlet, family budget restaurant, having wi-fi access, sharing on the go, The previous options are still there of course, but would be seen as "last-resort" tactics, I imagine. Hell, considering the near ubiquity of wireless devices, I wouldn't be too surprised if some sort of mesh-network setup didn't spring up at some point, or do you really think the OLPC has a monopoly on the concept?

  • by paper tape (724398) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @01:05AM (#32783592)
    Leaving aside the question of whether illegal music downloading is something that requires legislation at the federal level, or whether the schools should be doing enforcement, there is another, central issue here that most people are ignoring like the elephant in the room:

    If the federal government could legally require action by the schools, they would.

    They cannot - so they are resorting to extortion. Public schools are legally required to do a large number of things which are expensive, and which the federal government provides funds to offset the cost of. Because the monies provided are not directly tied to the mandates and required to fund only them, the federal government can threaten to withhold its largess as a means of coercing schools into doing things it cannot legally require.

    This is not unique to the educational system - the federal government has been doing it at the State level for some time now, as a means of doing an end run around the 10th Amendment: pass unfunded mandates that require action at the State level; provide federal funding not directly tied to the mandates; require that the states do things the federal government cannot legally force the states to do, on pain of losing the federal funding for failure to comply.

    While it is not new at the individual level either, the advent of the recent health care legislation brought it home to all Americans - not just select groups.

    Until we are ready to stand up and demand that the federal government abide by the Constitution as written (rather than as it would be convenient for the party in power at the time), we will lose a few more freedoms every year.

    For those who say the Constitution is a living document, meant to change with the times, I heartily agree. The Founders provided a Constitutional Amendment process for exactly that reason. If you believe the Constitution does not accurately represent the needs of the present day, then by all means, amend it... but do not "reinterpret" it and try to tell me that is what it said all along, just because you know that an amendment to get what you want will never be ratified.
  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @01:09AM (#32783600)

    Just because some regulation is good doesn't mean more is better. Just because some regulation is bad doesn't mean less is better. It's an implementation problem, not a process problem.

  • Re:First? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Saturday July 03, 2010 @02:25AM (#32783888) Journal

    Well I don't know about him, but I liked the state government here in AR when Bill Clinton ran things as Gov. Unlike the other Govs that act like rock stars with limo and guards, you could actually run into Bill at the mall or getting some veggies (he was always trying to diet) at the river market.

    I actually ran into him during the Xmas season one year and said hi, he said "how am I doing?"? and I said "great Gov, except for the roads up north". He said "I don't get up north as much as I'd like, so if you got a few minutes I'd like to know which ones need the most work". You have to remember at the time I had hair halfway down my ass and full biker leather, and here was the governor wanting to chat me up just the same as if I was one of his guys. Sure enough right after the holiday he took a trip up north, just like he said he would, and announced a road construction project to fix the roads that needed it.

    So yeah, I'd say you can get better treatment at the state level, if you get the right guy. And I know it would be a step down from being pres, but if old Bill came back tomorrow we'd be happy to put him right back in as gov.

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