Not only is the Recording Industry Association of America continuing its litigation efforts against university campuses, as Party Ben noted yesterday, but the group is also trying to pass legislation that would jeopardize the federal financial aid of these schools whose students are engaged in file sharing. Already strapped students and universities could soon be tasked with helping RIAA reach its bottom line.
The massive 800 page tome that is the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 includes a section called “Campus-Based Digital Theft Prevention,” which addresses file sharing, mostly of music and movies, on campus networks. The bill states that during the financial aid process, schools are obligated to inform students about copyright infringement laws. In addition, schools are mandated to implement technology that would prevent file sharing. The penalty for not taking these preventative measures is loss of all federal financial aid for the university.
The entertainment industry wants students to pay for movies and music, so instead of sharing files for free, schools would be forced to buy a music subscription service, such as Napster or Rhapsody. This money would be taken out of student activity fees, which doesn’t seem fair. Not to mention most students don’t even like these services because they’re not compatible with iPods and the downloads are solely for on-campus use.
So, if the students continue to share music, they suffer a federal financial aid cut. If they stop sharing music, their activity fees get hijacked. Party Ben got it right when he said the RIAA is surely “nearing the goal of alienating everyone.”