Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Universities becoming exasperated with RIAA, says Chronicle of Higher Education

Thanks to Jon Newton at p2pnet.net for pointing out to us an excellent article by Catherine Rampell in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Antipiracy Campaign Exasperates Colleges

But attempts to break with recording industry run into legal hurdles


Talk to the chief information officer at just about any American university, and he will probably say that his institution has bent over backward to help the Recording Industry Association of America curb illegal file sharing on his campus.

He will also tell you he's angry.

On e-mail lists and in interviews, university CIO's and other information-technology professionals say their mission is getting derailed and staff time is being overloaded by copyright takedown notices, "prelitigation settlement letters," RIAA-issued subpoenas, lobbying efforts, and panicked students accused of piracy.

Now, feeling burdened and betrayed, some of those universities are quietly fighting back, resisting requests for information and trying to quash subpoenas. Those that do so, though, find that their past compliance — and the continued compliance of their peer institutions — is being held against them.
Complete article

Commentary & discussion:

p2pnet.net (Our source for this story)
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Keywords: digital copyright law online internet law legal download upload peer to peer p2p file sharing filesharing music movies indie independent label freeculture creative commons pop/rock artists riaa independent mp3 cd favorite songs intellectual property portable music player


Scott said...

In the article, Cary Sherman refers to Media Sentry / SafeNet as a "vendor."

Oh, really. That's sort of like the Bush administration calling torture an "enhanced interrogation technique."

People who try to shape public policy have this fantasy that they can hide the true nature of something by substituting a euphemism for its real name. If they call "torture" something else, or if they call an unlicensed private investigation firm a "vendor," it shields them from the consequences associated with telling it like it is.

It may or may not; but it certainly does identify them as word-parsing prevaricators. This only serves to denigrate the institutions they represent.

Bush will be gone in January '09, thank God. Sherman will be around until the Big 4 decide to fire him. Hopefully that will be soon.

Anonymous said...

I was disturbed to read:

Responding to RIAA notices used to be part-time work for one person, said William C. Dougherty, assistant director for systems support at Virginia Tech. "Now he's doing it full time and has an assistant," he said. "Our attorneys are also involved on almost a daily basis, as am I."

I sincerely hope all universities are sending the RIAA the bill for thousands of hours of time they spend on this!


Anonymous said...

Lessig wrote about system architecture and its effects on monitoring a decade ago in a wonderful book, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. It surprises me that university sysadmins are only now realizing that not gathering information can make their lives easier. -dp

Anonymous said...


I don't like seeing you, or anyone else, dragging their particular brand of politicking into this blog. If you are criticizing the DMCA or Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act and those instrumental in the passing of it then that's relevant. However, attempting to bash one political party under the guise of a germane comment to the subject at hand I find both offensive and way out of bounds.


Anonymous said...


I suspect that the cost and effort is part of the RIAA strategy. By making it painful for the schools they hope that the schools will shut down P2P to make them go away. By making a school like VT shut down P2P they will eliminate thousands of infringers.

History has shown this to be a sisyphean task or 'wack a mole'. The end result will be others losing but the RIAA will not gain anything.


Scott said...


I will concede that my relief at the expiration of our current president's tenure (stated in the last paragraph) was a little out of bounds, and for that alone I apologize.

But the penchant of the administration to refer to torture as "enhanced interrogation techniques" is a perfect example of how public figures use euphemisms to attempt to absolve themselves of responsibility for ugly facts or repugnant acts. That this kind of rhetoric is used by an administration you admire is unfortunate. Using this example to characterize Cary Sherman's rhetorical game playing is a little provocative but nonetheless apropos.

OT but for context: For many years, I cast my lot with the GOP. I've been to CPAC once, and am an early alumnis of M. Stanton Evans' National Journalism Center program, where I tagged along with Donald Lambro and learned firsthand of the incestuous relationship between interest groups and the bureaucracy. I donated a fair sized chunk of money to Bush 43's first election bid against Gore. But as a gay man, I had become increasingly troubled by the hijacking of the party by those moralizing nutjobs in Colorado Springs that you are probably pretty familiar with.

Then, when Bush started to traffick anti-gay prejudice in his reeelection bid, I left the party. I'm now a card-carrying Libertarian.

I retain an immense passion for the First Amendment, a distaste for bullies and demagogues, and a revulsion against trade associations like the RIAA, whose machinations are an object lession in why the Federal government doesn't work very well.

raybeckerman said...

Let's try to keep this on topic, guys. Let's drop the off-topic stuff. There's enough free-for-all stuff on the internet.

We are on a mission.

raybeckerman said...

There is nothing in the RIAA situation that is 'right vs. left'.

I'm personally a lefty, but if I were a right winger I would be into 'free market' stuff, which is the opposite of what the Gang of Four's collusion is all about. They don't compete with each other, they collude with each other so they can artificially inflate prices. And in the litigations they collude with each other to artifically inflate the settlements.

And meanwhile, their whole anti-internet campaign is just an attempt to stop competition.

And it's not like Republicans v. Democrats because probably the worst pro-MAFIAA villain in Congress is a Democrat.

And a great Democrat in Congress, who I admire on most issues, is in the RIAA's hip pocket probably because his constituency includes Motown.

But all right thinking people, left wing, right wing, and centrist, have to agree that:

-copyright law should not be distorted, the law should be followed;

-the judicial system should not be abused as a means of extortion;

-plaintiffs should not violate the law in gathering evidence; and

-no lawyer should bring a case without concrete evidence that the defendant did something that violates a law.

Alter_Fritz said...

Amen Mister Beckerman, amen!

raybeckerman said...

you can call me ray. that is, if i can call you alter.

Alter_Fritz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.