Quick Copyright Update: Congressional Questions, Resistance, Peer-to-Peer banned, and More Lawsuits

The past few days have been busy on the copyright front:

  1. Members of Congress have sent a detailed questionnaire to 19 (or 20) institutions asking about their policies and practices related to students’ alleged online copyright infringement. The questionnaire is preceded by an unambiguous statement of disapproval of current policies and practices coupled with statistics of the damage supposedly done by file sharing (they’re based on shaky and extremely biased “research” but Congress has bought it all – hook, line, and sinker). These institutions are now in a very bad position as they are under a very bright spotlight. The questionnaire is quite biased but an institution that ignores questions, supplies evasive answers, or declines to respond will likely place itself in a very unfavorable political position. The questionnaire contains at least one really interesting question asking about cable television in residence halls and how it is funded; presumably this question is aimed at exposing the hypocrisy of institutions that refuse to pay for online entertainment services but are happy to pay for cable television. It’s a very interesting and relevant question and I am curious to see how institutions will respond.
  2. Charles R. Nesson and Wendy M. Seltzer have written an editorial in The Crimson stating that Harvard should be “assisting our students both by explaining the law and by resisting the subpoenas that the RIAA serves upon us…deploying our clinical legal student training programs to defend our targeted students [and] lobbying Congress for a roll back of the draconian copyright law that the copyright industry has forced upon us.” Nesson is William F. Weld Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the founder and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Seltzer is a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and a staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
  3. The RIAA has made good on their promise to sue students who do not take up their offer to settle out of court.
  4. Ohio University, named the university receiving the most DMCA takedown notices from the RIAA in their recent Top 25 list, has banned peer-to-peer technology. They claim the ban is working.

Those interested in following these and other updates as they occur are encouraged to monitor Rey Beckerman’s Recording Industry vs The People and The Chronicle’s The Wired Campus blogs.



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