Congress Moves Forward With Required University Subsidies To Napster, Ruckus

from the business-as-usual dept

Earlier this week, we wrote about how Congress had slipped a provision into the Higher Education Act that would require universities to put in place a plan to have published policies on unauthorized file sharing and to also "develop a plan" to offer "legal alternatives" such as Napster or Ruckus. Of course, some would point out that many file sharing systems, by themselves are legal. It's just that some people are using them for things that break the law. Really, what this bill represents is a gov't backed subsidy for Napster and Ruckus, forcing colleges to offer them even if their students don't want it. It's not clear, at all, why Congress should be in the business of demanding a particular type of music delivery system be offered on college campuses. The announcement of the bill resulted in plenty of attention, leading the House committee that was debating the Act to distribute a "fact sheet" that is anything but factual. It accused those criticizing the bill of being "supporters of intellectual property theft." That is not the case at all. In fact, it's rather insulting that Congress would automatically assume that anyone who questions why Congress is forcing universities to pay for commercial music distribution systems is a "supporter of intellectual property theft."

Of course, when the committee is calling anyone who opposes such a plan as being a supporter of theft, it's no surprise that they wouldn't take any of the criticisms seriously and moved forward with the bill without any changes to the controversial section. They also dismissed the claims that universities who don't sign up for Napster or Ruckus would lose financial aid funding, though, that's clearly what the bill allows to happen -- and you know that the RIAA and MPAA (and Napster and Ruckus, for that matter) will push to make it a viable threat.

Either way, it would be nice for Congressional supporters to answer this simple question: Why is it any part of Congress's business to mandate that universities sign up for a commercial music distribution service?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 8:36am

    Too bad flight 93 never made it

     

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  2.  
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    James, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 8:42am

    So whats the recourse?

    Lets say this idiotic nod to the music/video industry passes, and colleges all over wind up passing out flyers and develop policies "encouraging" the use napster/iTMS or whatever, but college students just chuckle and continue to download whatever they want... then what?

    Maybe next they'll try to force colleges to require each student buy one cd and dvd each quarter? Or disable all network access for students? Or have a TA babysit students as they surf the web?

     

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  3.  
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    pissed off person, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 8:48am

    So your saying congress is making colleges dish out money to offer us (students) music...

    i have 5 words for that..

    FUCK YOU!

    Universities are of course going pass the fees along to the students... meaning higher tuition

    It's not gonna kill filesharing... meaning higher tuition for no good reason

    ... is my reaction blown out of proportion... maybe. but with the way congress sucks RIAA and MPAA dick as said, it's not hard to see things play out this way. Thats just sad.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 8:57am

    Just shows you how out of touch with reality Congress really is when it comes to anything involving internet/filesharing/technology. Case in point was Ted Stevens description of the internet as a "series of tubes." Here's his actual quote:

    Ten movies streaming across that, that Internet, and what happens to your own personal Internet? I just the other day got... an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet commercially.

    [...] They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand, those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

    Congress, get your heads out of your asses!

     

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  5.  
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    norman619, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 8:58am

    Re:

    Nothing wrong with your reation and position. If we were looking for evidence of congress being bught off this is it. They aren't even trying to hide the strings this time. They should all be fired. Gov is supposed to look out for the people not business.

     

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  6.  
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    Sue Donim, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 9:25am

    Ted Steven's tubes

    lol, isn't that truth! Congressmen thinking the internet as a bunch of filled tubes is so rediculous. Everyone at my school knows that universities are the place to download music because they have fast pipes.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 9:30am

    I'm failing to see the connection between education and a music subscription service...

     

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  8.  
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    Markus, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 9:32am

    Ummm

    Isn't that supposed to be fat pipes? Point taken though. If you're a techie and you equate high bandwidth connections to fast/fat pipes then what business do you have making fun of non-techies for equating the Internet with a bunch of tubes?

     

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  9.  
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    Max Powers, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 9:41am

    New Catalogue

    I guess the college catalogues will now contain which file sharing service they have so you can make a more informed decision on which college to attend.

     

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  10.  
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    Old Guy, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 9:43am

    Why is it there business.

    "Either way, it would be nice for Congressional supporters to answer this simple question: Why is it any part of Congress's business to mandate that universities sign up for a commercial music distribution service?"

    BECAUSE RIAA, MPAA, Napster and Ruckus paid good money to buy those votes, that's why!

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 10:53am

    simplification

    Wouldn't it be easier if they gave the money directly to the music industries, rather than giving it to universities, and making them give it?

    While they're at it, why not just license it for everyone, rather than just students?

    Then you'd have a government funded music industry, with music for everyone and no wasted time/money with stupid court cases. Just another step from there to doing likewise with other industries and you'd have a nice socialist America.

    Put another way, forcing universities to pay the music industry is communism ;-) (There, that oughta stop 'em)

     

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  12.  
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    wyly, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 11:17am

    why do college students think they have a right to steal someone else's intellectual property? could it be perhaps that they are too immature to understand what it is?

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 11:30am

    Re: #12

    The problem is not that college students have a right to steal intellectual property. The problem with this is that congress is forcing universities to pay for and promote a commercial entity.

     

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  14.  
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    Overcast, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 12:08pm

    Wouldn't it be easier if they gave the money directly to the music industries, rather than giving it to universities, and making them give it?

    While they're at it, why not just license it for everyone, rather than just students?

    Then you'd have a government funded music industry, with music for everyone and no wasted time/money with stupid court cases. Just another step from there to doing likewise with other industries and you'd have a nice socialist America.


    Yeah, soon they'll just be lobbying for an 'Entertainment Tax' - we'll all have to pay for.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 1:48pm

    In the Netherlands they have a flat tax on all mp3 play back devices, like the ipod, at the point of sale. This money is then distributed to the recording industry. I think this a sensible approach and would end the legal wrangling.

     

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  16.  
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    Shun, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 2:57pm

    I am not sure an additional tax is the way to go

    In Canada, they have a "blank CD" tax. The (RIAA-type) people there pretty much assume that if you're buying blank media, you're supporting piracy. I don't think USA wants to go down this road. What we're supposed to be doing is this: if you can't make money doing what you're doing, do something else.

    What seems to be happening is this: get taxpayers to subsidize your obsolete business model. This would explain the current state of pathetic industries and services (aerospace, broadband, automobiles, telecoms, and cable). Agriculture is the same way.

    One thing's for sure: if you are a freshman in college, and you didn't already hate the RIAA, you've got a new reason to hate them now.

     

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  17.  
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    W Harvey, Nov 16th, 2007 @ 4:13pm

    Same thing happened with Katrina

    State Farm announced earlier this year that it would no longer sell new homeowners' policies in Mississippi, not to punish people there but because politicians had made it impossible to do business in an orderly way. In response, Attorney General Hood demanded that the governor order State Farm to write new policies. Gov. Haley Barbour replied, quite reasonably, that he does not have the authority to tell a private company that it must do business in his state.

    A storm has hit the recording industry. Maybe we can screw the insurance companies.

     

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  18.  
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    linda, Nov 18th, 2007 @ 9:12am

    your congress

    I'm Canadian...and I think some people in your American congress have gone insane....in a time of terrorism, threat of nuclear annihilation, storms wiping out peoples lives, job loss, home loss, the American ecomomy sinking faster than the Titanic...their big concern is what the kids are doing with music in the universities...so much so, they need to pass a bill? I'm sorry, but I'm getting nevous living next door to you guys :)

     

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  19.  
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    mdmadph (profile), Nov 19th, 2007 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Re:

    How unfortunate for all of us that, as far as I know, in the eyes of the courts a business pretty much is an individual person.

     

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  20.  
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    mdmadph (profile), Nov 19th, 2007 @ 1:11pm

    Re: your congress

    "...in a time of terrorism, threat of nuclear annihilation, storms wiping out peoples lives, job loss, home loss, the American ecomomy sinking faster than the Titanic..."

    The problem is that none of those things you mentioned there are concerns of those in power.

     

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  21.  
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    Business as usual, Nov 19th, 2007 @ 2:01pm

    You can try to make a difference.

    Both parties in both houses of Congress as well as the Presidency are always the same: bought and paid for.

    I am working my arse off trying to get Ron Paul some traction in the polls. Just paying attention to some fundamental principles of our nation scares the hell out of the status quo politicians!

     

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  22.  
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    Wizard Prang, Nov 21st, 2007 @ 7:09am

    Too late!

    My understanding is that is precisely why blank "Audio" CDs are more expensive.... the RIAA is getting its cut from presumed copyright violation.

     

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