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College Funding Bill Passes House, P2P Provision Intact 222

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the pay-no-attention-to-the-man-behind-the-curtain dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Ars Technica is reporting that the College Opportunity and Affordability Act passed through the House today with a vote of 354-58 and the anti-P2P provision is intact. That provision would require universities to filter P2P and to offer legal alternatives. They are claiming now, though, that universities would not lose federal funding if they fail to do this. Of course, an amendment that would have clarified that was withdrawn immediately after it was offered."
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College Funding Bill Passes House, P2P Provision Intact

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  • Of course (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:52PM (#22354626)
    Leaving things as they are will make (more) millions for (more) lawyers. So the government funded/susidized universities will be using gov't funds to fight the RIAA, and the RIAA will pay expensive legal bills to make sure they keep those "unrealized profits" as low as possible. Maybe one day they will wake up and...bleh, I am so sick of this argument.
    • Not really a win. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gnutoo (1154137) on Friday February 08, 2008 @06:54PM (#22355344) Journal

      The part about filtering P2P is disturbing but there's are plenty of good legal alternatives to RIAA crap [archive.org]. I'd love to see every university mirror the Internet Archive, Creative Commons and promote work from people in their community. Let's take that part of this stupid law and make something cool that will continue to bleed the RIAA out of existence.

      • by zotz (3951)
        "I'd love to see every university mirror the Internet Archive, Creative Commons and promote work from people in their community."

        There you go. Push the alternatives.

        Perhaps even block all legal music sites what have songs with restrictive licenses as you wouldn't want people to get their hands on the goods in the first place - too tempting to share them? Perhaps not.

        But, if they hosted and promoted works with Free Licenses, they could even end up with a revenue source for the university and students and var
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Friday February 08, 2008 @10:11PM (#22356934) Homepage Journal

        Let's take that part of this stupid law and make something cool that will continue to bleed the RIAA out of existence.
        So, we should just accept the fact that Congress is passing a bill for funding higher education that includes big financial bonuses for the entertainment industry? Lord knows, the record labels have done so much to help the intellectual enrichment of our nation's young people, right?

        Welfare for the rich, once again.

        With our government increasingly owned and operated by big business, it's no wonder that the one CEO that was running for president has been run out the race by a disgusted electorate. It seems like although many citizens could never elaborate fully on their instinctive negative reaction to Mr. Governor CEO, they know in their bones that there's a very very good reason NOT to have someone with experience in the corporate executive suite in the White House. Remember, these are the kind of people who get captive Boards of Directors to vote them 9-figure bonuses when the Company does poorly, while expecting "givebacks" from their workers and closing plants. That's the last kind of person we need running government at the moment.

        Forget separation of Church and State. It's time for separation of Industry and State. Increasingly, "Big Government" seems preferable to me to the "lean, mean, cut jobs, cut costs" approach that's brought on the "get mine and get out" attitudes of the leaders of commerce. It wasn't always this way. Yes, there were plenty of fat-cat Industrialists in the first part of the 20th century, but there was also a few truly patriotic business leaders who believed that you couldn't sell your product if your customers weren't working and making money to spend. This was replaced by the "if we can't sell cigarettes here, we'll sell them to the stupid third-worlders" mentality (notice the drastically increasing levels of tar and nicotine in the cigarettes sold in Africa and Asia).

        If we ever slide into full-scale class warfare in this country, there's not going to be a lot of pity for CEOs or their hired lobbyists or their fully-pwned elected officials.

        A bill in Congress for funding higher education that gives subsidies to the Entertainment Industry. Fucking Hell.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by perlchild (582235)
          It's simple, if "the people" don't punish government for acting against their interests, government will do so again.

          With both parties being pro-industry, it seems at least in the US, that a lot of people are out of luck... As for class warfare, are you sure the war isn't over already, with the rich having "won"?
        • by jamar0303 (896820)
          "(notice the drastically increasing levels of tar and nicotine in the cigarettes sold in Africa and Asia)."

          On the subject of Asia, I was browsing through the duty-free shop in Bangkok once. One look at a cigarette carton and... well, I don't think I'll be smoking... ever.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by milsoRgen (1016505)

        good legal alternatives to RIAA crap

        I know you're going for something different in your comment then what I'm about to reply with but...

        There are alternatives to RIAA members. I am a big fan Epitaph/Hellcat records, and it seems really up in the air as to whether or not they are an RIAA member. Lord knows they don't exactly have bands signed that would put up with this nonsense. Anyways from Wikipeida:

        In mid-2005 Epitaph was added to the official list of RIAA members along with several other high-profile independent labels. The reason for the listing is not clear, but one source points to an agreement for internet P2P distribution ("Independent Labels Sign Deal With Snocap"). Another source claims label management joined RIAA in order to get certified sales awards (ie, official "Gold" or "Platinum" record status) for releases. This sparked some controversy as some feel they should no longer be labeled independent if they are a member of the RIAA.

        However, the only source that has actually been used for these claims of membership is the official RIAA membership list, which has been disputed. As of this writing, not only is Epitaph listed as an official member, but Lookout! Records are once again listed, even though they were already falsely listed before.

        Sorry that quote was a little long in the tooth, just wanted to clarify my point. And my point is, there are some pretty excellent alternat

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by will.murnane (791409)
        *descending whistle*


        Have you read the FAQ on archive.org's hardware setup [archive.org]? Their goal, just for a start, is "one system administrator per petabyte". That amount of storage is not trivial, and suggesting one copy per university is a little overzealous. The Archive has three petabytes online; that's thirty racks the way they do it.

  • by Stanistani (808333) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:54PM (#22354664) Homepage Journal
    Our young adults are learning an important lesson - money talks.
    • by Mal-2 (675116)
      There's another lesson to be learned, and it is best to learn it before you hit the Real World, or it hits you:

      If you're going to do something that is officially forbidden, you need to NOT make yourself the easiest target. This doesn't mean being completely paranoid, only to remember the first rule of cow tipping: Always take someone slower than yourself.

      Just because something is popular doesn't mean it's legal, and most illegal things became that way by being TOO popular for some influential group's liking
  • Cue rants about corruption, stupid politicians, the MAFIAA, etc.
  • by KublaiKhan (522918) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:57PM (#22354702) Homepage Journal
    We need to find a way to make P2P distribution models legitimately profitable for the corporations that lobby in Washington for these asinine laws. I was under the impression that the Warcraft folks already had some kind of a P2P model going for distributing their patches and suchlike--perhaps other companies could be induced to do the same?

    Elsewise, it might become very popular and profitable to set up some kind of P2P-friendly VPN service, with endpoints just outside the DMZ of various college networks...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2008 @06:07PM (#22354814)
      They are just asking for completely decentralized encrypted network. Soon they'll get it.
      • That'd be easy to take care of: per-student bandwidth limits (say, 10 GB/month). Large enough for most legitimate purposes. Small enough to curb most serious P2P-ers
    • by jamstar7 (694492)

      We need to find a way to make P2P distribution models legitimately profitable for the corporations that lobby in Washington for these asinine laws. I was under the impression that the Warcraft folks already had some kind of a P2P model going for distributing their patches and suchlike--perhaps other companies could be induced to do the same?

      Excuse me?

      Which version of the GPL requires anybody to work to ensure corporate profits? If RIAA wants to make P2P distribution networks profitable, let them do thei

  • Sigh... (Score:4, Funny)

    by AndGodSed (968378) on Friday February 08, 2008 @05:58PM (#22354710) Homepage Journal
    Hands up all who are surprised and shocked. Hokay, slap yourself in the face nooby. My goodness delilah, I cannot believe you actually put up your hand! Are you so attention starved that you would willingly humiliate yourself in front of EVERYBODY in a manner that is as degrading as that!? Now stop staring at me with those fish eyes of yours and go uninstall all those supposed "legal" computer software that is crawling through that porn infested pile of junk you call a PC. Do you really think you'll be a programmer one day? *storms off in a huff* /cox rant...
  • This should make for some interesting drama over the next year. I wonder what Harvard, which RIAA appears to be avoiding wrt lawsuits [arstechnica.com], will do about this bit of legislation if it becomes law?
  • by corsec67 (627446) on Friday February 08, 2008 @06:01PM (#22354754) Homepage Journal
    What matters is the worst possible case scenario for how a law could be interpreted, and how the scope of the law could creep. DMCA, Patriot[sic] Act, Commerce Clause [wikipedia.org], etc...

    In this case: even if the removal of funding doesn't occur immediately, if it is in the law it will most likely be used.

    When was the last time that the government said "no, I don't need more power"?

    A few major ones are Prohibition [wikipedia.org] and the 55 MPH speed limit [wikipedia.org]
    • You are not free and never can be unless you....
      A. Do not interact with other humans.
      B. Deny the freedom of other humans.

      Prohibition is an attempt to stop me putting whetever I want into my body - a restriction of my personal freedom.

      Speed limits are an attempt to stop me putting my car into someone else's body - a defense of someone else's personal freedom.

      Neither are even tangentially related to p2p systems - freedom of association and trade.
  • bad summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2008 @06:02PM (#22354770)
    Read the bill itself:

    http://edlabor.house.gov/bills/HEAReauthorizationText.pdf [house.gov]

    The relevant section:

    (a) DISCLOSURE OF POLICIES AND SANCTIONS RE-
    LATED TO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.--Section
    485(a)(1) (20 U.S.C. 1092(a)(1)) is amended--
            (1) by striking ``and'' at the end of subpara-
        graph (N);
            (2) by striking the period at the end of sub-
        paragraph (O) and inserting ``: and'' ; and
            (3) by adding at the end the following new sub-
        paragraph:
                  ``(P) institutional policies and sanctions re-
            lated to copyright infringement, including--
                      ``(i) an annual disclosure that explic-
                  itly informs students that unauthorized
    distribution of copyrighted material, in-
    cluding unauthorized peer-to-peer file shar-
    ing, may subject the students to civil and
    criminal liabilities;
          ``(ii) a summary of the penalties for
    violation of Federal copyright laws;
          ``(iii) a description of the institution's
    policies with respect to unauthorized peer-
    to-peer file sharing, including disciplinary
    actions that are taken against students
    who engage in unauthorized distribution of
    copyrighted materials using the institu-
    tion's information technology system; and
          ``(iv) a description of actions that the
    institution takes to prevent and detect un-
    authorized distribution of copyrighted ma-
    terial on the institution's information tech-
    nology system.''.
    which is a patch to this [cornell.edu].

    Looks like it simply means that the institution must disclose the policies etc. So they could simply say "we're doing nothing" and comply with the law.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You're correct that that's the bill, although there's the question of whether "we plan to do nothing" is actually a plan per the legal meaning of the bill. This includes not only the legal meaning of words (lawyers have Black's Law Dictionary to list the extra meaning of otherwise ordinary words), but the intent of Congress and a number of other things. Clearly, the point of this bill is that universities should have a plan and that that plan should be to stop infringement by students and offer legal P2P
    • So they could simply say "we're doing nothing" and comply with the law.

      They could indeed, but this would provide precisely the leverage that the RIAA is looking for to "clarify and existing provision of law" at a later date with new teeth while at the same time dodging more stringent review processes for making new laws vs amending existing laws. This is an incremental step in the wrong direction and a prelude to the real law which come after the RIAA points to your existing policy of "doing nothing" as the reason why an existing law "needs to be strengthened with teeth." The

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday February 08, 2008 @06:04PM (#22354784)

    That provision would require universities to filter P2P and to offer legal alternatives.


    Since P2P filesharing is legal (though sharing particular files may not be), and there are no other alternatives with the same features, this seems to be nonsense.
    • I don't see why students couldn't simply get some cheap wireless broadband and completely circumvent the schools IT infrastructure when it comes to P2P, if it comes down to it.
      • Because they are students and are poor. Most universities provide internet access without charging the students anything additional. And as the discussion proves, students are cheap and if something is free they will take it over something that isn't.
        • Because they are students and are poor.
          Then tough break, it's going to take hard work to either A.) Pay for your own internet Access, or B.) To get out the vote to help elect a more citizen (not corporate) friendly government.
        • by Bob-taro (996889)

          Most universities provide internet access without charging the students anything additional.

          I don't know if it's an actual itemized charge like it was when I was in school (it's been a while - think "gopher"), but I'm sure the students' tuition is paying for the campus network and internet access.

          And as the discussion proves, students are cheap and if something is free they will take it over something that isn't.

          Are you suggesting that the rest of us prefer to pass up free stuff?

        • no they are billed as part of a dorm, tech , internet or other fee.
  • I wonder if the idiots that thought they could effectively block P2P have a brain?

    If you block it, it will find a way around you one way or another. You could run P2P over DNS if you wanted to. Once that happens, 2 choices, break the law or cut the universities off the internet.

    Can the universities send the RIAA the bill?

    • I say run everything over port 80, with everything wrapped around <html><body>encrypted data you cant see</body></html>

      Then add in open and close brackets every so often to make it look legit, so it bypasses proxies and other munging servers.

      When it passes all the layers of detection from ordinary traffic, the shit will hit the fan.
  • Politicians took a look at the name of the bill and realized they couldn't vote against it no matter what it said.
  • by CodeShark (17400) <ellsworthpc AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday February 08, 2008 @06:11PM (#22354866) Homepage
    So, now the Federal government is supposed to require institutions to deny my free speech rights, by setting up filtering regimes that may or may not allow me to share copyrighted materials peer to peer-- even if I own the copyright on the stuff I am sharing.

    Anyone else besides me think the SCOTUS would wipe that particular provision off the books the moment that Harvard, Yale, et. al go to war with the RIAA? Hint: those two schools alone have more legal ability backing them and all the financial resources required to go to legally go to war, and in fact, more than all the RIAA companies combined. Not to mention that the RIAA really really really doesn't want to piss of Stanford, because the majority of the RIAA companies are in California, and it's not that far a drive from Stanford to any State court where they would choose to go to war themselves.

    My question is, why aren't our congressmen and women smart enough to vote that particular piece of junk OUT of the bill?

    • by Catbeller (118204) on Friday February 08, 2008 @06:50PM (#22355302) Homepage
      "Anyone else besides me think the SCOTUS would wipe that particular provision off the books the moment that Harvard, Yale, et. al go to war with the RIAA?"

      Not this SCOTUS. Bush loaded that quite well with pro-business judges. Young ones, too, so they'll be a probem for a half century or even more. Do not look for relief from the Imaginary Property crowd from those five. Reference Lawrence Lessig's noble attempt to void the 100+ year copyright by pointing out it was effectively eternal and thus violating the Constitution's design to release works into the public domain. The court's majority - not just Bushies, either -- stated that since the 100 years was a finite time period, the lockup was not technically eternal thus not violating the concept of release to the public domain. The sane counter that in 100 years time our descendants would not even understand what public domain was anymore, or that the future law would simply add another 100+ years, was lost on their ears. They are pro-business and pro-Imaginary Property.
      • by samantha (68231) *
        There is nothing remotely pro business about this bit of boneheaded knee jerk nonsense. This is too broad for even the brain damaged RIAA dreams. It is not good business to wipe out entire categories of computer applications and software architecture during the very education of future employees and innovators.
    • So, now the Federal government is supposed to require institutions to deny my free speech rights, by setting up filtering regimes that may or may not allow me to share copyrighted materials peer to peer-- even if I own the copyright on the stuff I am sharing.

      But how do you plan to prove that you own a valid copyright? If you write a song, can you prove that you didn't accidentally copy something you had heard a decade ago on the radio [wikipedia.org]?

      Anyone else besides me think the SCOTUS would wipe that particular provision off the books the moment that Harvard, Yale, et. al go to war with the RIAA? Hint: those two schools alone have more legal ability backing them and all the financial resources required to go to legally go to war

      But do Harvard and Yale receive a lot of federal funds, compared to state universities?

  • A lot of schools already block P2P anyway because they only have so much bandwidth to go around, and educational use of it comes first. What's really going to change?
  • Dear Slashdot,

    Can you help me figure out a way to ply the illegally gotten contents of my hard drive against my almost 10 years old student loan? I would have pirated this stuff back then, if I could have...

    Thanks!
  • by Dorkmaster Flek (1013045) on Friday February 08, 2008 @06:29PM (#22355038)
    ...is that the schools would be required to promote "legal alternatives" for music to students, i.e. iTunes, Napster and the like. Most universities already monitor their network to curb file sharing. But the university being forced to push commercial services on students is way over the line. These are supposed to be institutions of learning, not free advertising. Now you've got student tuitions and tax dollars being spent on the recording industries PR campaigns. The whole thing makes me sick.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tepples (727027)

      ...is that the schools would be required to promote "legal alternatives" for music to students, i.e. iTunes, Napster and the like. Most universities already monitor their network to curb file sharing. But the university being forced to push commercial services on students is way over the line.

      Who said they have to be commercial services? The plan could start with Michael Crawford's list [goingware.com].

  • Please do not allow the RIAA to bully you into promoting their affiliated eStores (e.g. iTunes) on your campuses. In order to provide legal alternatives, please work with smaller entities or even free services to grow and promote them and firmly raise your finger to those who buy our politicians and make our children targets for litigation.
  • by nsanders (208050) on Friday February 08, 2008 @07:05PM (#22355472) Homepage

    That provision would require universities to filter P2P and to offer legal alternatives.


    I was unaware that P2P is illegal. What law am I violating when I download Linux ISO via bittorrent? Or use World of Warcraft's built-in torrent system to download updates to my game?
  • And the Bush restrictions are out the window once he's President, along with $4000 a year for college students who sign up to work in hospitals or the peace corps.

    So I wouldn't worry about the privacy restrictions being in effect for very long.

    Think someone may have YouTubed it - I was there for three hours and just got back.
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday February 08, 2008 @07:42PM (#22355820) Homepage Journal

    Remember this, the next time you advocate government "helping" things by funding them. If a special interest has an axe to grind, a congressman or senator who is not accountable to you (best case: accountable to citizes in another state, worst case: accountable to the industries who fund him) will impose weird conditions for the money, and it will effect your life. You can violate the conditions and opt-out of the money, but the people of your state don't have the option of opting out of the federal taxes whence the funding came. Still want public education? You can still have it: you just have to pay for it twice.

    Biotech? Sorry, only if nobody at the institution uses embryonic stem cells. Astronomy? Only if you don't publish anything that mentions Earth's weather. Education? Don't get me started. Oh, I guess this story is one of the numerous examples.

    You'll know a true "science president" or "education president" when you see him. He'll be the one running on the platform of slashing all the funding, and vetoing the seemingly-pro-education bills. He'll say, "I will protect your education budget from those who aren't accountable to you." Let the state taxpayers keep that money in their state, and decide for themselves how they'll use it. That way, if industry buys some people in the next state over, at least you will still have a chance to get what you want.

    Move the power to as close to home as possible, and it gets that much harder to pull bullshit like this.

    • The moral of the story is ... anything too concentrated can be dangerous, whether it be horse manure, money, or politicans.
  • So this must mean that every university that would be subject to the proposed law [i]also[/i] receives more funds to purchase equipment and software that will allow for the traffic shaping, monitoring, and filtering that the bill requires? OK, well at least the universities will receive more money to hire out IT professionals who can aid in such an onerous task?

    What's that? No? Oh, I see...

    At least the title of the bill sounds uplifting, right? The "College Opportunity and Affordability Act"--you can't go w
  • by JSBiff (87824) on Friday February 08, 2008 @07:51PM (#22355906) Journal
    If a University or College did block all P2P traffic (as opposed to blocking just traffic that they could prove beyond a reasonable doubt was infringing a specific copyright holder's copyrights), I think it would be easy to make an argument that such action is unconstitutional.

    Copyright, by it's very nature, only protects that which is an embodiment of a creative idea. . .in other words, speech. OpenOffice.org is speach, for example, and is legally distributed via P2P networks. Same for many Linux distros and other Free/Open Source software. If my P2P connection to download Open Source software was blocked, that would amount to illegal censorship. Theoretically, someone could also use P2P technology to distribute Audio or Video blogs or other 'journalism', so that could then be a violation of freedom of the press.
  • by Doug52392 (1094585) on Friday February 08, 2008 @08:19PM (#22356122)
    So the MPAA lied and said 44% of damages from illegal movie downloading is caused by collage kids, says that for 2 years, then tells everyone due to "human error", it's more like 15%. Now they pass this bullshit legislation that will, yet again, destroy the rights and civil liberities of collage kids. Will someone get these dreaded 4 letter industry lobbyist organizations out of the picture?
  • Wealthy Universities (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rossz (67331) <ogre AT geekbiker DOT net> on Saturday February 09, 2008 @06:06AM (#22358782) Homepage Journal
    The top universities don't need funding, anyway. Harvard, for example, has so much in endowments that they could permanently stop charging tuition without putting a dent in their mountain of money. I'd love to see something like that. A top university that didn't care about your money. They could concentrate on what they "say" is all that is important, the prospective students qualifications. So a brilliant but poor black kid from the ghetto would truly have a leg up on some mediocre rich white kid. It's never going to happen, though. Congress has threatened to get involved if universities don't spend at least 5% of the endowments to lower tuition, but it's an idle threat. Way too many congress-critters have close ties with those universities.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @11:29AM (#22360036) Homepage Journal
    The goal is to get p2p criminalized outright, and they gotta start somewhere. Start with easy extortion and get the next generation used to it, then slowly raise the bar.

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