Are U.S. Educators On The Wrong Side Of The Copyright War?

from the sharing-information-is-a-good-thing... dept

Last month, the entertainment industry (with the help of Senator Harry Reid) slipped a nice little amendment into the Higher Education Reauthorization Act, which funds colleges and universities as well as students. The amendment would require universities block p2p file sharing or lose funding. A number of universities complained (reasonably) about the expense involved in doing so, but some are arguing that it’s about time that universities got away from just the cost argument and stood against this on principle. John points us to an argument for why universities should be fighting back against copyright maximalism, noting that, of all places, universities should recognize the benefits of a freer flow of information, and how trying to artificially limit information only leads to problems. The author notes that the high price of college textbooks should be example number one of how copyright can hinder the educational purpose of a university by artificially driving up the price. Of course, these days it seems like too many of the myths from the entertainment industry have been accepted as fact — so it seems unlikely that universities will stand up against dangerous copyright practices any time soon.

Filed Under: , , , , ,
Companies: congress

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Are U.S. Educators On The Wrong Side Of The Copyright War?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Reed says:

Re: freer flow of information?

“Universities? Unless you’ve paid their tuition, many universities don’t like you receiving any of their “information”. If they feel that way about the information that benefits society, why should they feel differently about information for entertainment purposes?”

I go to UW now and I must agree. Universities are already part of the information problem and it will take more than a change of argument about copyrights to set them right.

When I research articles in the library, I do it under the condition that I cannot share those articles or the information in them with people outside of the university. There is probably some logical reason I am missing, but it really seems that the ivory towers are bent on keeping information within them and not sharing it with anyone else.

IMHO our whole soceity has deteriorated with selfishness, greed, and a form of capitalism that only a cruel society would pratice. There is no regard to the little people that make it work. It is a very strong class based society that makes me question what our supposed democracy is really cracked up to.

spencermatthewp says:

ODD ......

It seems to me that copyright, if taken by the letter of the law, would prevent a university instructor from making a photocopy of anything and distributing it. It would even stop them from showing a film, TV show, or work of art in class. Why would a university want that. It’s kind of like that nazi poem, “finally they came after me, but there was no one left to stand up for me.”

Do they not see that in the end the RIAA, MPAA, and every other copyright zealot wants to force everything to be locked down. While I do think distributing (and downloading) music on a p2p network is theft, I do see fair use as something we must have (I should be able to legally play music my CD (the one I own) on my ipod. I should be able to play music I by on Itunes on Any play I so choose).

Well we shall see.

nonuser says:

Re: ODD ......

College professors and departments have been busted for pulling together books full of journal articles for supplementary reading, and running off copies at a local copy shop w/o notifying the original publishers.

But universities are very conservative institutions, and professors are in the game of trying to secure captive audiences for their textbooks, so I don’t think those incidents caused a great stir. Just a reminder of what the rules were, and that they would be enforced.

I think the record industry’s insistence on rigorous copyright enforcement probably resonates at universities. Though they might not appreciate this particular law requiring them to proactively scour their networks for violators, which seems intrusive.

The infamous Joe says:

Odd, indeed.

College professors and departments have been busted for pulling together books full of journal articles for supplementary reading, and running off copies at a local copy shop w/o notifying the original publishers.

I was under the impression that “educational purposes” was one of those get-out-of-copyright-free cards…

Oy. says:

Fair Use

I think higher education purposes DO fall under the fair use exception. They make you pay for the packets in colleges/universities to cover the costs of copying (paper, ink, labor). If the school or professor makes a profit off of the copied materials, that would most likely not be considered fair use. But I’ve never heard of any duty to notify the original publishers or ask for permission. Anyone know if there is one?

Fascinatin' says:

College Copying

Universities and colleges are covered by the same copyright laws as everyone else. You can copy a certain amount of a published work for many purposes but if a professor (or you) goes beyond that amount and tries to copy an entire article or book he must have the written permission of the copyright holder. Often this is not difficult to get, as long as suitable attribution is included in all copies.
I used to work in a copy shop (back in the day) that served several universities and we were always instructed to determine the amount of a work being copied and require authorizations when necessary. Many of the Professors did indeed have such and always seemed pleased to show them. often complimenting us for having asked. I often suspected that they considered it as ‘sauce for the goose’ since they also have to publish continually in order to hold their positions and they like the idea that their own creative work will be likewise protected and attributed.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...