Download a song, lose financial aid?

Reading how recording labels are dropping digital rights management and recording artists are finding new ways to reach their audience, one might believe that the music industry’s business model is beginning to catch up with the 21st century. For every tentative toe in the water the industry wages a rearguard action to hold on to the past, such as the the antipiracy provisions contained in the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007, a pending bill I’ve mentioned before. What does federal education-financing legislation have to do with music piracy? Among it’s lengthy provisions it requires that colleges and universities eligible for federal financial aid develop plans to offer alternatives and impose technological barriers to illegal downloading. The draft legislation does not impose penalties on those schools that fail to develop satisfactory plans, but the link between continued piracy and withheld financial aid is implicit in the mere existence of such a provision in this bill. While such indirect regulation of music piracy may be effective, Congress should not be putting colleges in the role of copyright enforcers for the Recording Industry Association of America. The existence of this provision in a a bill otherwise far removed from copyright issues evidences both the RIAA’s lobbying power and the absence of forward-thinking policy in RIAA and Congress.

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  4. Richardson Bosquet

    I also disagree with the effect such a provision could have. Although I believe that schools should seek to protect their students from copyright infringement by developing and maintaining systems and technological barriers that prevent the illegal downloading of music, I disagree that the RIAA should have the power to sue schools or institutions that fail to do so. Regardless of where the copyright infringement occurs, it falls on the actual “downloader” to carry the full responsibility for their actions. However the mere possibility of having one’s financial aid taken away as a penalty is also incomprehensible. Colleges are not subsidiaries of the RIAA and thus do not, and should not bear the responsibility of aiding in the punishing of their very own students on the behalf of the RIAA.

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