Saturday, March 10, 2007

Congress on RIAA's side?

I wasn't going to write about this anymore, but I can't help myself. Yesterday, the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property held a hearing on the issue of downloading on college campuses. Congressman Howard Berman suggests that colleges aren't really doing enough to combat piracy. He claims colleges are hypocrites, saying:
Perhaps the most ironic issue is that many universities expect others to respect and protect their IP rights to scholarly works and inventions, but seem to disregard or close their eyes to the theft of the creative works of others. (via Ars Technica)
This is so far from the truth as to be laughable. I floated a question about how other schools were handling this situation to an email list of other IT managers. I got lots of responses outlining various strategies. Everyone is taking this seriously. Though we may serve as ISPs for our students, we don't have the same resources as those ISPs. For example, most ISPs keep log files for 180 days, something we don't do for space reasons. Now, though, we'll be rethinking that.

In addition to having to rethink some of our practices, it was suggested that colleges and universities apply filtering software to our networks. We already do a lot of monitoring of our network. What they're talking about is purchasing a commercial product. In some places, such a purchase may not cause an undue burden, but in places (like ours) where we're already stretched pretty thin, this could be a real problem.

As our attorney said, what we really want to do is get back to what we're here for: educating students. All of this is a big distraction.

Let me point out, for the record, that two of the key Congressmen advocating for these stricter measures are democrats. If any of your representatives are on this list, you might consider writing them.