Congress moving forward with plan to scare colleges into supporting RIAA measures

The Electronic Frontier Foundation warns us that H.R. 4137, the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007, is still steaming ahead with its "Campus-based Digital Theft Prevention" that ties college funding to universities' intimidates college administrators into a purchase of DRM-based industry-sanctioned download services and deployment of network snoopware that spies on and disconnects college kids if they appear to be violating copyright (without any hard evidence or a chance for the student to present her side of the story).

These congressional requirements will turn out to be expensive dead-ends -- the industry-sanctioned online music services are laden with DRM, and network detection/filtering programs present privacy risks and are inevitably rendered obsolete by technological countermeasures.

Advocates of the bill stress that the language stops short of demanding implementation -- that it only requires universities to "plan" -- but this argument misses the point entirely. The passage of this bill will unambiguously lead universities down the wrong path. For the sake of artists, administrators, students, and consumers better approaches exist.

The bill also would hang an unspoken threat over the heads of university administrators. In response to concerns that potential penalties for universities could include a loss of federal student aid funding, the MPAA's top lawyer in Washington said that federal funds should be at risk when copyright infringement happens on campus networks. Moreover, earlier versions of "Campus-based Digital Theft Prevention" proposals nakedly sought to make schools that received numerous copyright infringement notices subject to review by the US Secretary of Education.

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