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

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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  • by FuckingNickName ( 1362625 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @04:52PM (#32779430) Journal

    All get together and agree to do nothing. Watch as the government doesn't withdraw federal funding for all schools.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Or more likely, another excuse to raise tuition again.

    • Thousands and thousands of administrators from the education establishment all over the country unanimously agree to NOT exercise a single photon of power in their individual fiefdoms. goodluckwiththat.
    • A better method (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:07PM (#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.

      • by sribe ( 304414 )

        Damn, I have mod points, I wish I could bump you up to +6 ;-)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by remmons ( 601226 )
        While I don't have any statistics, I suspect that the percentage of traffic dedicated to file sharing on a college campus is quite high. The savings from a smaller internet pipe after file sharing is minimized could make the cost of adding such network hardware you speak of a good investment. Not to mention the time and effort that is saved from someone addressing all the mail from RIAA and MPAA notifying them of copyright infringement.
      • Wireless is affordable now. The students have to pay for internet one way or another, why not leave the schools out of it? Get a sprint phone, and you have an hub that will support 8 devices for an extra $30 a month.

      • Re:A better method (Score:5, Informative)

        by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi AT evcircuits DOT com> on Friday July 02, 2010 @06:58PM (#32781052) Homepage

        $100/semester? That's cheap. I work at a University and I'm involved with some of the decisions that go on at the border:

        Implementation of firewall (hasn't been one until this year), bandwidth shaper and intrusion detection:
        Syslog server + syslog license upgrade (not kidding): $50,000/year, $2000/year support contract
        2 Cisco 6500 chassis with 10Gig modules: $60,000, $5000/year support contract
        Redundant IBM IDS: $100,000, $10,000/year support contract
        Redundant Traffic shaper upgrade: $20,000
        5 consultants for 3 years: ~$2,000,000
        Taking away time with meetings from 15 other employees because the contractors don't know what they're doing: ~$500,000 in lost time
        Having the existing network team do the planning, communication, testing and implementation from scratch in 2 months: infuriating
        Noticing that some of the vendors haven't actually tested their equipment in real life with 10GigE and multiple mult-gigabit Internet, Internet2 and MAN connections and thus coming short in processing capacity: even more infuriating
        Noticing that everything you just bought are just Linux/Unix-flavor boxes with Xeon processors and mostly open source software: priceless

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Even better: hand them a bill. If a pirated song "costs" $300,000, bill them 1% for preventing this "theft".

    • by Kingrames ( 858416 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:25PM (#32779940)
      That bill grants an organization (RIAA) the power to hold the entire nation hostage by denying the USA its entire supply of future skilled labor. Regardless of whether or not it's "legal", this is an act of military aggression against the USA and everyone involved in the creation of that bill, more specifically the rider attached, is a traitor and must face criminal charges.
      • Won't be necessary. The RIAA's sneak clause is stupid on so many levels. It'll fail, just like everything else the industry has tried to stop piracy.

        Colleges can't stop piracy. And, it's none of their business. Making it their business doesn't solve anything. Some will undoubtedly waste some effort in appeasement by taking ineffective measures, just for show. Even if they wanted to take this issue seriously, there are no effective measures they can take. At most they may succeed in driving piracy f

    • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:50PM (#32780290)

      All get together and agree to do nothing. Watch as the government doesn't withdraw federal funding for all schools.

      Watch as the schools turn off the P2P tap.

      You think the bloke who pays for the keg believes in free beer?

      The government doesn't have to cut funding to all schools. It only has to make examples of a few to demonstrate that it means business.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by penix1 ( 722987 )

        There is an easier alternative and one I would take if I were president of a college. Simply not provide students internet access. Let them get it on their own. If a student wants access to the internet in their dorm room, allow the local provider to wire it in. That will take care of this legislation because the network is no longer the college network.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          That would only work if the existing campus LAN could be adapted to work with independent ISPs, or if WIMAX were a reality.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hedwards ( 940851 )
        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Whether you watch 500GB of iTunes movies or 500GB of torrents, it's going to cost the uni about the same (yes, yes, small overhead). If they want to throttle Internet leisure activity by limiting consumption in a period of time, that's quite understandable. The problem appears when the school starts expressing a preference for your Internet leisure activity.

    • Because if they don't, this is an elitist policy.

  • But even doing that can cost alot just for the hard where.

  • I guess this is the answer to all of those people who always ask "Won't they ever learn?"... Those who can't do.. teach.

  • Outsource it! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by achbed ( 97139 ) * <> on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:02PM (#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.

    • at which point they'll say "we're ot suing you under the DMCA idiots. Safe harbour is not an issue here. just do as you're told or we pull funding"

      • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
        you seem to be having trouble with the concept of words having specific meanings, because the words you just used do not make any sense in the order you have sed them in.
  • seems to me like a lucrative opportunity for delivering some checkmark software solutions at discount price.
    • seems to me like a lucrative opportunity for delivering some checkmark software solutions at discount price.

      I've got a state of the art anti-piracy solution. It's $500 per implementation + $0.10 per student. It's a sheet of printed paper with a Yes check box and a no Check box, with the following sentence written above them:
      "Will you download things you don't have the copyright to using our network?"
      If the student checks Yes, my friend Boris here will punch them in the stomach, and hand them a new form. If they check No, we mind our own fucking business.

      • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
        i was thinking an eeepc running a script to send reset commands inwards towards bittorrent ports. the fact that they can be blocked by the students if they wish to is neither my nor the university's problem. i would sell these at a markup of about $50 over retail
  • Actually (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    In all fairness, they only have to come up with a PLAN to combat piracy. There are no performance targets to meet as to whether or not the plan will actually DO anything. Just another lip service campaign.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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

      • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
        if i was a university administrator i would respond to such a requirement by selecting magnatune as the subscription service
  • by RobertM1968 ( 951074 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:11PM (#32779738) Homepage Journal

    I'd simply pick the "or" option...

    "or "vigorously" responding to copyright infringement notices from copyright holders.'"

    That's already required by the DMCA... seems like this is pretty easy to me... (pick the "or" option).

  • 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
  • I see college campuses spinning off dormitories to legally independent entities, and not allowing them on the wired campus Internet or allowing official hot-spots in the dorms to be on the campus network.

    Access to campus resources would be through VPN.

    Then if the campus network didn't "properly" follow the rules the college would be off the hook.

    The ultimate end-game of this strategy is to sell all dormitory buildings to private investors. No court in the land would hold colleges responsible if private bui

  • by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:22PM (#32779884)

    Looking over this largely beneficial legislation, sponsored by all Democrats, it is shameful to see this turd hidden in the fine print of section 493. This is not an amendment slipped in at the last moment. This was by design from the beginning, so kudos to the Ds for upholding the tradition of congress being corporate tools.

    I am not surprised, but severely depressed that there is such a soulless and unethical disregard for the well being of this country by all of congress.

  • Insulting (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by gearloos ( 816828 )
    Why is it the responsibility of the schools to stop piracy? Why does the government not have sufficient people put in place yet (after like 17 years of the internet) to do real cyber crime investigation? Coming from an engineering background I saw this as an issue many, MANY, years ago. As a side note I recently had a credit card opened in my name and some other stuff done. You want to know what the detective from the local PD did? - nothing!, he took a report and told me I WAS SUPPOSED TO GO TO THE FTC WEB
  • by kenrblan ( 1388237 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:30PM (#32779998)
    By essentially requiring universities to perform the investigation, response, or protection against piracy, the RIAA and MPAA are receiving a government supplied subsidy. If a thief stole a diamond ring and passed it to a friend who resided in a college dorm, would the jeweler ask the University Housing department to handle the investigation? Shouldn't they be entitled to the same assistance from the federal government? From actual university work experience, the RIAA is a royal pain in the rear. They issue notices and expect the university to determine who broke the law. They expect this service without providing adequate information in many cases. Most universities don't have the human or budgetary resources to spare for this pointless endeavor. There should be a clause in the law to allow the colleges to bill the RIAA/MPAA for time spent on investigative services. At $100 per hour, they might decide it's not worth going after the kid who downloaded Britney Spears latest craptacular single to listen once and then delete it forever.
  • I may be a bit off here, but I will guess that this move, if it becomes a reality for most, it will have the effect of teaching students how to use encrypted file-sharing protocols. The reason is simple: as a student you don't have much moeny, but plenty of time and lots of friends with the right knowledge. Add it all up and it can really only be one thing...
  • It's a simple enough proposition. The government directs you to provide free resources and labor in the form of software security enforcement to the for-profit organization we designate or we cut off your education funding.

    What could be the problem with that?

  • for breeding greater industrial strength p2p apps

    more obfuscated, more sparse, more steganography, more secure, better hidden...

    oh, you thought you were going to stop piracy instead?

    you thought you were going to take a bunch of poor, technically astute, media hungry young folk, and get them to go "gee, all this arm twisting... maybe i should spend $200 a month i don't have on the media i want rather than stick it to an authoritarian internet freedom destroying parasitical antiquated UNNECESSARY corporate en

  • Much in the way the military plans for future wars based on assumptions from previous wars, this will go down that road as well. You're going to have an arms race with a group of people who have the benefit of unlimited time and resources? You will lose.

    Something that the record industry still hasn't figured out yet, as they file RICO inspired civil lawsuits, is that no matter the frequency, amount or success of lawsuits it's impossible to win in the big picture. The movie industry is a bit better off la

  • Loopholes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:53PM (#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 nimbius ( 983462 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:54PM (#32780356) Homepage
    colleges can outsource student networks (dorm, cafeteria, etc...) to ISP's, and maintain their own in-house networks for things like computing projects, internet2, etc...cost savings and flipping the bird to RIAA controlled legislators is certain to be a win-win.
  • Yes We Can! (Score:3, Funny)

    by masmullin ( 1479239 ) <> on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:58PM (#32780402)

    Obama: Where "Yes we can" means "No you cannot!"

  • Luckily... (Score:5, Funny)

    by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:59PM (#32780422) Journal

    ...we have a good guy on our side in the White House. Obama will surely strike this down, pronto.

  • by Frater 219 ( 1455 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @06:22PM (#32780670) Journal

    ... a small one. Here's what our policy to prevent piracy would have been:

    Please don't pirate stuff too much. If we get notices saying that you're pirating stuff and asking you to quit, we'll call you in to the office and give them to you. If we get court orders telling us to give them your name, we'll probably have to do that, since we can't afford lawyers much.

    If you really have to pirate stuff, please at least try to leech it off of your friends on the LAN rather than flooding our dinky little Internet uplink. Because if you do that, we'll probably end up blocking your IP address for a while so that email and our Debian updates can get in.

    And while you're at it, here's the address of the porn server that some freshman set up. Get your porn over there, please don't mirror all of over our connection.

  • At what point will it be so bad, that so many students are getting busted and have to drop out to cover legal fees/expenses because of pirating?

    Does anyone have the stats of how many higher learning students have pirated something? Be it music, movies, software etc. Another interesting thing to have is what % of those who do pirate anything have gotten "busted." What about those deterred from pirating because they know someone who has gotten busted?

    I think you know where I'm going with this...
  • Get RIAA to pay. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tinkerghost ( 944862 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @06:31PM (#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.

  • Limit bandwidth and use commercial software to cap per-student/per-workstation bandwidth to an amount equivalent to (at most) a fractional T1 (say 512K down 256K up), unless the student has any reason they need more bandwidth @ a workstation to pursue academic interests or personal needs, where they then agree to an additional TOU, and have a face to face discussion with a network administrator, to show they have a legitimate reason, and it's not just to share media files.

    If they want to download/uplo

  • great idea! (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by fusiongyro ( 55524 )

    First, let's make sure there are no jobs in America for people with advanced degrees.

    Second, let's make sure having a Bachelor's degree is meaningless with respect to getting jobs too.

    Third, let's take away all the things that make going to college fun.

    Boy, this country's going to be a lot of fun in about 20 years...

  • by Anonymous Coward

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

    Yeah. They'd better send some ships to the Somalian coast.

  • by PagosaSam ( 884523 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @06:41PM (#32780870)
    This amends and extends the HEOA of 1965. This legislation has it's fingers and all aspects of grants and loans for Higher Ed.

    "Under the Higher Education Act of 1965, the Student Assistance General Provisions, the Federal Work-Study (FWS) Programs, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program, the Federal Pell Grant Program, and the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership Program (LEAP) to implement various general and non-loan provisions of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA) and other recently enacted legislation. These regulations are effective July 1, 2010."

    This is a small sample of the programs affected.

    Basically if your school won't play ball, they are dead. This is what they mean by "Big Government".

  • by zenasprime ( 207132 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:08PM (#32781704) Homepage

    Hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil are spewing into the Gulf of Mexico each day, an entire ecology is dying, and these assholes are fucking worried that some moneyless students aren't buying enough Britney Spears.

  • by thesolo ( 131008 ) * <> on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:50PM (#32782114) Homepage
    You can read the full text of the bill on the Library of Congress [] 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.

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