Space Ramblings

…Or Else We’ll Sic Our Congressmen On You

Congress has begun putting pressure on colleges and universities in the US over piracy concerns. Lawmakers sent “surveys” to the presidents of 19 universities in hopes of getting answers as to what the universities are doing to curb piracy on campus. But the surveys weren’t just to find out what’s being done, as House Judiciary Committee member Lamar Smith (R-TX) made a veiled threat to universities that do not provide satisfactory answers back to Congress. “If we do not receive acceptable answers, Congress will be forced to act,” Smith said in a statement.

“The fact that copyright piracy is not unique to college and university campuses is not an excuse for higher education officials to fail to take responsible steps to eliminate such activity nor to appropriately sanction such conduct when discovered,”

So the RIAA realized it was too difficult to win in a court of law… especially as some courts are now objecting to such RIAA tactics as “making up evidence”, “pointlessly depositioning small children”, “suing dead people” and “suing 90 year old senior citizens who have no computers to download anything with and are blind anyway”– so they decided to prosecute their war against college campuses by going to their paid employees in congress.

But wait it gets better. What could a letter written by congressmen to investigate whether the Universities were combating piracy possibly contain? Questions about piracy prevention one would assume– rather than well actively pushing corporate services. Ha.

Some questions were more leading, asking whether the institution offers discounts or site licensing for “legitimate online services,” whether the universities provide subsidized cable or satellite TV programming to students,

In other words universities are now expected to prove their opposition to piracy by forcing students to pay for some sort of subscription music service approved of by the RIAA. We had of course seen tactics like this by Adobe and Microsoft who exploited the BSA to push licenses. Nevertheless we’ve never seen Congress actually threaten and then unsubtly prod universities to begin signing up their students for music services.

Really as the financial services scandals are showing, if the RIAA really wants to go this route, campus officials are cheaper to buy than congressmen. All it takes is some plastic pens, a few thousand dollars and a Bahamas vacation and you’re sold to the RIAA for life.

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