Late last year, we wrote about a bill that would put pressure on universities to put in place an official approved music subscription service
or risk losing federal financial aid support for students. This is a bizarre piece of legislation, as it effectively props up Napster and RealNetworks by basically requiring universities to sign up for such a service, even if they don't want to. Despite widespread criticism of the bill, the House has now approved it
, even leaving out a promised amendment promising that failure to obey wouldn't threaten financial aid. Supporters of the bill claim that it wouldn't actually be used to cut off financial aid, but if that's the case, why include it in this bill at all? It would basically be a requirement without any repercussions for ignoring. At the same time, no one has clearly explained why universities should be required to sign up for a private music subscription offering. What possible public policy reason could there be for such a thing?