You might recall that back in July, EDUCAUSE issued an urgent call to action about a file sharing amendment that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid intended to make to the Higher Education Reauthorization Act.
It's déjà vu all over again. Virtually the same proposal has been incorporated into Rep. Howard P. McKeon and Rep. Ric Keller's College Access and Opportunity Act of 2007, and EDUCAUSE has again issued an urgent call to action. Get the details at EDUCAUSE's P2P or File Sharing page.
Also read "A Controversial Antipiracy Measure Re-emerges." Here's an excerpt:
Like Mr. Reid’s amendment, the House proposal calls on the U.S. secretary of education to identify the 25 institutions that received the most notices identifying cases of copyright infringement of both music and movies. The colleges appearing on those lists would then be required to devise “a plan for implementing a technology-based deterrent” to illegal file swapping.
Source: Read, Brock. "A Controversial Antipiracy Measure Re-emerges." The Wired Campus, 8 October 2007.
The RIAA scored a victory in its first file sharing lawsuit to go before a jury. Defendent Jammie Thomas was ordered to pay $220,000 ($9,250 each for 24 songs).
Here are the Ars Technica postings that deal with the case:
Further coverage about the verdict can be found in these CNET News.com articles:
Testifying in Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas (formerly known as Virgin v. Thomas), Jennifer Pariser of Sony BMG, admitted that the RIAA's lawsuits against file sharing result in a net loss for the organization.
Here's an excerpt from "RIAA Anti-P2P Campaign a Real Money Pit, According to Testimony":
One of the biggest bombshells from the cross-examination was Pariser's admission that the RIAA's legal campaign isn't making the labels any money, and that, furthermore, the industry has no idea of the actual damages it suffers due to file-sharing. . . .
The next line of questioning was how many suits the RIAA has filed so far. Pariser estimated the number at a "few thousand." "More like 20,000," suggested Toder. "That's probably an overstatement," Pariser replied. She then made perhaps the most startling comment of the day. Saying that the record labels have spent "millions" on the lawsuits, she then said that "we've lost money on this program."
Source: Bangeman, Eric. "RIAA Anti-P2P Campaign a Real Money Pit, According to Testimony." Ars Technica, 2 October 2007.
Digital videos of two copyright presentations by Wendy Seltzer, Assistant Professor at Northeastern University School of Law, at Cornell University are now available: "Protecting the University from Copyright Bullies" and "Righting the Copyright Balance."
In a new round of litigation, the Recording Industry Association of America has sued 24 individuals who had not heeded pre-litigation settlement letters, and it has sent 403 new letters to individuals at 22 universities.
Source: Butler, Susan. "RIAA Sends Another Wave Of Settlement Letters." Billboard, 20 September 2007.
About 700 MB of file-sharing foe MediaDefender's internal e-mails have been distributed on the Internet. These e-mails detail the tactics that MediaDefender used to disrupt peer-to-peer file-sharing, including decoying, interdiction, spoofing, and swarming. (You can read about these tactics in "Peer-to-Peer Poisoners: A Tour of MediaDefender.")
Here's a selection of news stories and postings about the leak:
It appears that some major ISP's, such as AT&T, may filter the traffic that passes through their networks in order to eliminate illegal file-sharing.
Here's an excerpt from "MPAA Head Wants Deeper Relationship (Read: Content Filtering) with ISPs":
Rather amazingly, given the money and time that will be required to implement such a system, AT&T has agreed to start filtering content at some mysterious point in the future. Other ISPs could well follow suit, as most of the major networks are owned by or affiliated with companies that also have a voracious need for content (just think of how both cable companies and telcos like AT&T and Verizon need access to channels for their various TV offerings, if you need an example). The companies want to keep on good terms with content owners, but there may also be some legitimate concern about the impact illicit traffic has on their networks. Cracking down on illegal file-sharing—should that prove to be technically possible—could help with both of these issues.
Source: Anderson, Nate. "MPAA Head Wants Deeper Relationship (Read: Content Filtering) with ISPs." Ars Technica, 19 September 2007.
With is focus on entertainment, digital audio/video file-sharing would appear to have little to do with digital scholarship; however, file-sharing is the canary in the digital copyright coal mine. Since the financial stakes are high, the legal battle over file-sharing is fierce, and it is where a growing body of digital copyright case law is being written. These rulings are legal precedents that may affect a wider range of digital materials in the future. File-sharing is also where the fate of digital rights management (DRM) is being largely decided, and this could have a major impact on future digital scholarship as well. That’s why I cover file-sharing legal issues in DigitalKoans.
The EFF has issued a new report, RIAA v. The People: Four Years Later, that examines the track record of one of the major legal combatants in the file-sharing war, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Here's a brief excerpt from the report:
Are the lawsuits working? Has the arbitrary singling out of more than 20,000 random American families done any good in restoring public respect for copyright law? Have the lawsuits put the P2P genie back in the bottle or restored the record industry to its 1997 revenues?
After four years of threats and litigation, the answer is a resounding no.
CNET News.Com reports that Senator Harry Reid has withdrawn his original Amendment to the Higher Education Reauthorization Act, which met with opposition from EDUCAUSE and others, that would, among other provisions, have forced higher education institutions to prove to the Department of Education that they had "developed a plan for implementing a technology-based deterrent to prevent the illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property."
Instead, Reid successfully added an amendment that requires higher education institutions to inform students "that unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material on the institution’s information technology systems, including engaging in unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject the students to civil and criminal penalties."
Ars Technica and EFF Deep Links have additional coverage of this development.
EDUCAUSE has issued a call to action about a Higher Education Reauthorization Act amendment:
Here’s an excerpt from the call:
I am writing to ask your help in a matter of urgency to higher education in general and the IT community in particular: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) intends to offer a very harmful amendment, involving illegal file sharing, to the Higher Education Reauthorization Act when the Senate turns to this issue on July 22-23. The amendment can be found at <http://tinyurl.com/2x45d2>. The amendment:
* Makes the Secretary of Education an agent of the entertainment industry;
* Requires the Secretary to take action using data given to her by the entertainment industry that is terribly inaccurate;
* Requires targeted colleges and universities to plan for implementing a "technical solution" to illegal file sharing that does not yet exist for many campus environments;
* Is aimed only at colleges and universities, and NOT other Internet service providers; . . . .
It is important that your institution (CEO, government relations official, and yourself) CALL today, not write, your state’s U.S. senators’ staff members for higher education issues and tell them how much higher education opposes this amendment. Please also call Senator Reid’s office (202-224-3542), Senator Edward Kennedy’s office (202-224-4543), and Senator Michael Enzi’s office (202-224-3424). Thank you for your help.
In a move that should greatly reduce Internet use and library expenditures for licensed electronic resources, the University of Kansas has prohibited campus network users from downloading copyrighted material:
Violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is against the law. If you are caught downloading copyrighted material, you will lose your ResNet privileges forever. No second notices, no excuses, no refunds. One violation and your ResNet internet access is gone for as long as you reside on campus.
Most likely Kansas means "If you are caught illegally downloading copyrighted material . . .," but, unfortunately, as worded, the only files that can be downloaded without penalty are those in the public domain.
Source: Bangeman, Eric. "University of Kansas Adopts One-Strike Policy for Copyright Infringement." Ars Technica, 20 July 2007.