RIAA attack on federal funding malicious

Review's View

From the masterminds who have thought it fit to sue little old ladies in Iowa for nearly $100,000 per downloaded file comes the latest decree from the mighty Recording Industry Association of America: If American colleges and universities don’t start policing illegal peer-to-peer downloading, they could lose all federal funding.

Buried deep within the massive 750-page Higher Education Bill currently working its way through Congress is a stipulation that if institutions of higher education fail to provide evidence that they are actively fighting and providing alternative to music sharing and pirating, they could lose any and all federal funding.

Universities must provide an annual disclosure/warning to students applying for financial aid that includes the following:

• A warning that peer-to-peer file sharing may subject them to criminal liability.

•A summary of the penalties for copyright law violations.

•An outline of university policies regarding unauthorized downloads.

•Actions to be taken by the university to prevent such downloads.

Universities are also required to develop a plan to deter illegal downloading, and to offer an alternative to peer-to-peer downloading. Any institutions that fail to follow these guidelines will risk losing financial aid.

First and foremost, it seems ridiculous to ask universities and colleges to act as an extension of the law. Last we checked, institutions have greater things to worry about than some freshman in the LLC downloading the latest CD from Fall Out Boy.

Second, the fact that Congress had the audacity to tie this issue to federal funding is unfair. By doing this, the U.S. government is basically stating that they think it is more important that Jennifer Lopez be able to afford her latest car than for low-income kids to receive a quality education.

All issues of copyright piracy legitimacy aside, our nation’s institutions of higher education should not be used to head off a problem that the music and film industry cannot handle themselves.

Instead, the industries need to reexamine their methods, motives and, above all, prices, to see the root of the problem. But to threaten universities to solve a problem by revoking the privilege of some to better themselves is not the way to fix the problem.