Friday, August 25, 2006

Universities put Hollywood ahead of students

Draconian, indiscriminate measures against file-share are par for the course at USC, as is the black-hole treatment for people who get snared in the dragnet. Aram Sinnreich, a USC grad student studying file sharing, who was an expert witness at the Grokster court case, was censured for using BitTorrent, and never received a response to his letter, either.

USC's arch-rival UCLA is a somewhat better steward of its students' interests in the copyright wars, as reported by Cindy Mosqueda at Metroblogging LA, who notes that UCLA's approach is mostly one of warning students about the crazies down the raod in Hollywood and their willingness to destroy your life to prop up their business model, but does not extend to actively policing students on their behalf. This is affirmed in last spring's letter to students from the Dean and Archchancellor.

At the University of Michigan, the policy is not far off from USC's, but at least they've got the good sense not to describe the school's mission as "is to promote and foster the creation and lawful use of intellectual property," as USC did.

Australia's Queensland University of Technology, touted as Brisbane's answer to MIT, has sent out a completely bizarre letter to students warning them that even if you buy your music from iTunes, you can't play it on a university computer, thanks to Australia's out-of-date copyright laws (soon to be replaced with an even more out-of-date regime, thanks to the dumb Free Trade Deal the loathsome John Howard signed into law).

One thing that's becoming increasingly clear from these factors is that students often need as much protection from their universities as they do from the entertainment industry's slipshod copyright enforcer thugs. It might be time for activists to start delivering anonymous file-sharing tools that help students evade the campus cops so they can get their research done.

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