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New TN Law Forces Universities To Patrol For Copyright Violations 331

CSMatt points with this excerpt from the EFF's page: "Last week, the RIAA celebrated the signing of a ridiculous new law in Tennessee that says: 'Each public and private institution of higher education in the state that has student residential computer networks shall: [...] [R]easonably attempt to prevent the infringement of copyrighted works over the institution's computer and network resources, if such institution receives fifty (50) or more legally valid notices of infringement as prescribed by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 within the preceding year.' While the entertainment industry failed to get 'hard' requirements for universities in the Higher Education Act passed by Congress earlier this year, the RIAA succeeded in Tennessee (and is pushing in other states) with this provision that gives Big Content the ability to hold universities hostage through the use of infringement notices. Moreover, the new rules will cost Tennessee a pretty penny — in the cost review attached to the Tennessee bill, the state's Fiscal Review Committee estimates that the new obligations will initially cost the state a whopping $9.5 million for software, hardware, and personnel, with recurring annual costs of more than $1.5 million for personnel and maintenance."
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New TN Law Forces Universities To Patrol For Copyright Violations

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  • by aproposofwhat ( 1019098 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @10:09AM (#25800921)

    What's even funnier is that the DMCA isn't the law at issue here - it's the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999 that is being used against filesharers.

    I wonder if there is some wit in the Tennessee legislature having a good laugh at the expense of the RIAA?

  • Thats too bad. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alarindris ( 1253418 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @10:12AM (#25800941)

    It just seems like the population doesn't get to participate in democracy anymore. Other than record companies, who could possibly think this makes sense? Or demand that such a law should be passed?

    As far as music goes, I haven't heard anything worth buying in a while anyway. And I certainly wouldn't expect to hear it on the radio (they aren't giving us any other options atm). For now I'll just keep my torrents seeding and buy merch from the bands I do like, which funny enough, are mostly all from 1980 or before, so they've all got their mansions already anyhow.

    Hey record labels, your biggest market (for touring bands anyway) is college students. Why do you guys want to get rid of all of that free marketing? (word of mouth, mix CD's etc.) Get a clue.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @10:15AM (#25800977)
    Once again, I apologize for my home state. If it's any consolation, this is just one of MANY, MANY, MANY dumbass laws passed on a yearly basis there. I decided it was time to leave about the time they started looking at creationist laws. The Scoppes Monkey Trial taught them nothing.
  • by theaveng ( 1243528 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @10:18AM (#25801029)

    Country music is the most popular form of music in America according to Arbitron radio ratings.

  • by darkfire5252 ( 760516 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @10:24AM (#25801079)
    As a University of Tennessee student, I am pretty pissed. I posted copies of the Ars Technica (I believe) article that discussed this bill as it was making its way through the congress; absolutely everyone who read it was amazed and pissed that such a thing was even being talked about, including university employees that will become responsible for enforcement. Even worse is the fact that the University of Tennessee is currently undergoing massive budget cuts [], and I'm sure that this money that now legally must be spent will be dollars that used to be used educating Tennesseans and others.

    Regarding budget cuts, from the campus paper linked above:

    The University of Tennessee system sustained an initial $21.2 million budget cut in June, followed by an additional October impoundment of $17 million. All campuses have been affected and have taken similar measures, of varying degrees of severity, to offset these reductions.

    As a result of the initial cut, the Knoxville campus reduced its budget by $11,452,500; the Chattanooga campus by $2,682,200; the Martin campus by $1,965,000; and the UT Health Sciences Center by $2,751,500, according to the proposed budget for the 2009 fiscal year, released by the UT System Budget and Finance Office. Other UT branches affected included the Space Institute, the Institute of Agriculture, the Institute for Public Administration and the Systems Administration division.

  • by Taibhsear ( 1286214 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @10:25AM (#25801089)

    [R]easonably attempt to prevent the infringement of copyrighted works over the institution's computer and network resources

    Well violating the students' constitutional rights seems pretty unreasonable to me, so the whole law is moot IMHO.

  • by Ken D ( 100098 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @10:31AM (#25801175)

    Right, now they have an incentive to spend up to $1.5M per year challenging bogus DMCA notices instead of rolling over.

  • by infalliable ( 1239578 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @10:33AM (#25801197)

    I sense a huge uptick in the number of infringement notices sent to Tennessee schools.

    Who determines if they're legally valid?

  • by the4thdimension ( 1151939 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @10:35AM (#25801223) Homepage
    Most uni's don't want to face downtime they can't control. Residential networks make it easy to set up services that students need without the hassle of diving out VPN software and having to troubleshoot that all day. Furthermore, your average college student won't even know what VPN means let alone how to install, run, and use one. This is a nightmare waiting to happen. In my opinion, the best thing a university can do at this point is do what all the smart ones did: ignore anything having to do with copyright laws, dmca, or regulations. The man will come down but uni's have good lawyers and they can/will win. This is just another classic case of the RIAA buying themselves a law.
  • by Mathinker ( 909784 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @10:44AM (#25801317) Journal

    The students could still run a website where people would advertise what content they had, and how to contact them to gain "access" to it, face-to-face. The university would be compliant, since this website, AFAICS, would not violate the DMCA itself. It might be in violation of "encouraging copyright infringement", but that's different, I think.

    If the students are clever, and advertise the site as something which helps you meet other students with similar tastes in music, I think it might be hard to get any kind of ruling against it.

  • by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @10:48AM (#25801369)

    Yes, do you sing? You listen to recordings of other people singing and find them pleasurable. You make copies of these recordings so that you can get the same pleasure later. You actively listen to new radio and television shows in order to hear new songs to repeat this cycle. You go to bars and concerts to hear other people sing, even without hearing their recordings previously.

      But you don't really sing yourself. It feels weird. You look weird doing it. Everyone looks at you weird should you do it. Everyone accepts that music and singing is what's on a disk that comes from an 'artist' and is something that you buy from a disk shop. Or download on a bit torrent. And get hassled and extorted by the RIAA who occasionally spy on your downloading. Something that they gave themselves the right to do without asking you.

      This is your-our cultural input conduit. It is based on the economic concept that the best singers and song makers will physically go to a centralized city, meet with the best music instrument players, sing and play together, and the recording of this will be put on a disk. A corporation will make millions of copies, send these disk copies to all corners of the globe, sell them to people who enjoy the best singing and playing, keep most of the money for themselves and give the singers a few pennies maybe from every dollar that they collect from selling these magic music disks.

      A hundred years go by and this strange economic model transcends mere commerce and becomes the primary cultural conduit for most people in the developed world.

      But it is an aberration. It's only a 20th century phenomenon. It didn't exist in the hundred centuries before the 20th. And now the 20th is over. And the centralized cultural distribution model is getting better at putting you in jail, extorting your financial resources, and getting you thrown out of school than it is at meeting your basic human cultural needs.

      So get a new model; get a new cultural conduit. Go back to the ways before the 20th century that people used to develop their cultural resources. Where are you going to find new music if not from recordings? From books. There is a system for writing and reading music. It works. Learn it. Where am I going to hear and share new songs? From listening to people sing them to you. And by you singing new songs to them. Sure it hurts the ears at first. Sure it feels weird and silly and uncomfortable. But these are only 20th century cultural conditionings. And the 20th century is over. Time to leave it behind.

        This is the only way that we are going to stop the RIAA. By developing a parallel culture that meets our needs. And then keeping it secret from the 20th century music corporations.

        Learn to sing.

  • by Mathinker ( 909784 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @10:55AM (#25801457) Journal

    > I'm not an idiot, I can tell when content is infringing copyright or not, and I'll deal with it.

    That's a good one! Look at the movie "Charade", for example. It was hosted for quite a while on because it was originally screened without a copyright notice. The MPAA found some loophole and got it taken down....

  • Best of luck RIAA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by einer ( 459199 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @10:56AM (#25801459) Journal

    As an IT professional working at one of these TN universities I can report that the budget crunch currently going on in education (the aggresive growth policies that served the endowments so well in the past were mostly real estate driven) will limit the resources these new directives are allocated. In fact, we're actually considering open source solutions for the first time since I've worked here. Pretty sure the RIAA's financial well being is not at the top of our list.

  • by dhwebb ( 526291 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @10:57AM (#25801481) Homepage Journal
    Foundering first quarter revenue collections indicate that Tennessee's state budget shortfall could reach $800 million, Gov. []
  • by GuyverDH ( 232921 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @10:57AM (#25801491)

    Really now? You somehow know the inviolate checksums of every possible variation of every copyrighted work ever produced? WoW!!! I mean WOW!!! That's just amazing...

    Do you happen to have a calendar of all future cataclismic events as well? Just asking, cause you could save the human race a lot of suffering if you'd share it...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @11:02AM (#25801533)

    I don't know what the stats are for universities in Tennessee, but here on the University of Washington campus we hear about the rates of sexual abuse being 1 in 4 for females and 1 in 10 for males.

    Whenever this shit happens, I always wonder why people don't just start wandering around by the state house, muttering things like "How much rape could 9 million dollars prevent?"

    Maybe with a ballot in their hand or something. I don't know.

    (prophetic CAPTCHA: "plenty")

  • by anexium ( 591672 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @11:08AM (#25801603)
    If this is with regard to a residential network provided by the universities (and not the university network as such), wouldn't the provision of this put them in the same position of an ISP, and therefore protected by the same regulations that stop ISPs getting sued for the content that goes across their network?
  • Re:Closed P2P (Score:2, Interesting)

    by troll8901 ( 1397145 ) <> on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @11:36AM (#25801951) Journal

    I can only admire you and SanityInAnarchy for explaining difficult topics so easily.

    I have another theory on what you're trying to say. Are you saying:

    • identify pirated music that are sneaked onto P2P networks, and remove them before people get sued?
    • making a hash of the audio [] or digital certificate, to certify them as truly free music?

    (How much do you want for your Slashdot ID? <g>)

  • Re:Indie Music (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Builder ( 103701 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @11:40AM (#25802003)

    Indie Music is free? Since when ?

    Many bands on independent labels or bands pushing their own recorded cds actually charge for this.

    While bands may advocate sharing, I would not go so far as to say it is free, especially not in the legal sense of the word.

  • Re:Best of luck RIAA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jvkjvk ( 102057 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @12:11PM (#25802417)

    The problem is it's not "best of luck" I'm pretty sure the law has some teeth should you not comply. It doesn't matter that there's no money for it; any discretionary budget will get soaked up - think upgrades (you really didn't need that new comp lab did you?)

    Unless this law is struck down your uni will either do what the STATE wants or lose state support, perhaps accreditation, funding. This is a compliance issue now, not a "good luck" issue.

    If you think you're in a budget crisis now, tell the RIAA "best of luck" after they serve your uni with 50+ of these notices...

  • by darkfire5252 ( 760516 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @12:17PM (#25802533)
    Here's my letter to the local University of Tennessee newspaper ("The Daily Beacon"):

    Now that the University of Tennessee system has taken a budget cut of $21.2 million dollars, one might expect that the state would be carefully deciding how to spend the money that is available. However, this is apparently not the case. On November 12th, two days after the Daily Beacon covered the story of the UT system's budget cuts, Governor Bredesen signed senate bill 3974 into law, and committed the Tennessee higher educational system to spending (according to the government's own estimates) an additional $9.5 million one-time cost, and between $1.6-$1.9 million dollars every year from now on. What could be worth spending this much money (which amounts to 45% of the budget cut)? The University of Tennessee is going to spend this money making your internet connection go even slower: UT will now be responsible for preventing the sharing of copyrighted music and movies. Because of senate bill 3974 and Governor Bredesen, Tennessee law now states that "each public and private institution of higher education in the state that has student residential computer networks shall: [...] attempt to prevent the infringement of copyrighted works over the institution's computer and network resources."

    The Recording Industry Association of America and the Movie Production Association of America are understandably thrilled about this law. The RIAA and MPAA are the organizations that have filed thousands upon thousands of lawsuits against students, children, and grandmothers for infringing copyright by sharing movies and music over the internet. Because of their lobbying efforts, the University of Tennessee is now legally responsible for enforcing their will and doing their dirty work. In a time that the economy is doing worse than it has for many years and the University of Tennessee is seeing budget cuts of over $20 million dollars, we are now being forced to pay over $10 million dollars (for the first year, and $1.9 million each year afterwards) in order to make sure that the RIAA and MPAA make as much money as possible and stop losing profits to those rotten thieving students that steal all of their revenue.

    Robert Coop
    Doctoral Student,
    Computer Engineering
  • Re:Indie Music (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JNighthawk ( 769575 ) <> on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @12:35PM (#25802923)

    Look, I don't care what music you listen to. I don't care. Stop turning this into a religious argument.

    I like mainstream music. I don't care what you think about it - don't deride me for liking it, or put more eloquently, don't persecute me because my beliefs are different than yours.

  • Public radio (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chris Daniel ( 807289 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @05:01PM (#25808057) Homepage

    Good thing I have 10 stations programmed into my radio dial so I can skip commercials.

    I have begun to hate commercials with a passion, since I stopped watching normal TV and started downloading shows. The radio ads got to me just as much after a while.

    I now exclusively listen to my local listener-supported classical radio station ( -- 89.9 FM in Portland, OR). They, along with many other listener-supported stations, simply read aloud written messages from some business sponsors; I find this massively less obnoxious than normal radio ads. There are apparently a few of these stations around (there was one in my home town of Tulsa), since the demand tends to be lower than is viable for a commercial classical station.

    So, if you can't stand ads, don't want to pay for satellite radio, and NPR isn't your thing, there is probably something else available.

  • by chrismcb ( 983081 ) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @06:09PM (#25809143) Homepage
    I can't sing, I don't want to sing. I don't want to listen to amateurs, I want to listen to professionals. I want to listen to people who spend a lot of time practicing and training, and who are GOOD at what they do. It is called civilization, we have moved beyond the hunter gather society, and moved into a society where people can become experts at one thing. I want to go to a doctor who studied and practiced being a doctor. Not one who practices a little on the weekends, and cuts hair the rest of the time. I'm not going to stop you from listening to whomever you want. There are plenty of street musicians and amateurs you can listen to... But do you support them?

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.