House Passes Bill That Would Require Colleges To Practice Network Filtering

Last week the House voted 354-58 to approve a college funding bill that requires colleges to “make plans to offer some form of legal alternative to P2P file-swapping” and to implement some form of network filtering. Luckily for sane people everywhere, the White House has already made veto-noises at the bill for other reasons—but still, the MPAA came that much closer to forcing its admittedly false worldview on universities.

One distinctive tool in this situation is Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), who introduced an amendment that would explicitly deny funding to schools who didn’t comply, but then had his staffers pull the amendment at the last minute with the excuse that he wasn’t there in person to introduce it. We’ll apparently have to look forward to Rep. Cohen’s industry-friendly amendment at a later date.

“Controversial college funding bill passed–P2P proviso intact” [ArsTechnica]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. DeltaPurser says:

    THIS is what they do all day long?! Like there’s nothing more important going on right now?

  2. smitty1123 says:

    I’m so glad I went to college back in the good ol’ days of ratio FTP sites, IRC warez and Goldeneye. Good times…

  3. StevieD says:

    Sounds like the Dems going out of their way to protect their big $ donors, but then I remembered several of my mutual funds were heavily invested in Media companies at which point I discovered that DRM is really a good thing.

  4. snwbrder0721 says:

    So it’s not just the RIAA that still believes in an obsolete business model, but now they’ve convinced (bought) congress too?

    Maybe the RIAA / MPAA Could Learn a Lesson from the Anti-smoking campaign:
    Telling people not to smoke and taxing the bejesus out of tabacco didn’t curb smoking. It took a marketing campaign that actually gave people another cause to get behind (Truth campaign) to actually see decreases in smoking (especially in teens). Don’t tell them no, figure out how to channel the energy for good.

    Don’t criminalize your customers, invent (I know, it’s tough) a better way to give your customers what they want. Be willing to obsolete your own model before someone else does. Companies that haven’t been willing to step up to the plate and re-invent themselves always make it 10 times harder later on when they do come around (Kodak).

    **cough**radiohead**cough**successful**cough

  5. goodkitty says:

    @DeltaPurser: I thought it was the legislature’s job to create rules protecting corporate profits at the expense of taxpayers? That’s why we have an executive branch, so that if congress ever starts getting weird and passes consumer protection laws, someone is there to veto them and add signing statements to further funnel money into war-related corporations to make up for it. (Too much sarcasm?)

  6. Luckily for sane people everywhere, the White House has already made veto-noises at the bill for other reasons

    Such as?

  7. madanthony says:

    There are still colleges that allow access to P2P sites? I work for a college, and we’ve blocked access to most of the major p2p services for years – more because they use up huge amounts of bandwidth than the copywrite issues.

    As far as legal alternatives, we did offer CDigix for a while, but then they kind of went out of the music business.

  8. elislider says:

    Couldnt a university just make an official statement saying “we encourage the use of itunes, ruckus, yahoo/rhapsody, amazon mp3s, etc as alternatives to the blocked p2p traffic” and have that comply with this bill? Although this bill is completely retarted and unneccessary, it seems easy enough to comply

  9. FLConsumer says:

    @madanthony: bahahahaha…how can you be sure you’ve “blocked access to most of the major p2p services for years”? The best P2P solutions I’ve seen thus far don’t have any real signature to them, just a flurry of traffic.

  10. DeltaPurser says:

    @goodkitty: Not at all… Well said! Thanks for the chuckle :-)

  11. viqas says:

    the uni i go to uses road runner for the dorm internet connections. I dont know how that is going to work.

  12. madanthony says:

    @FLConsumer:

    fwiw, I don’t really work on the network or student side of things, so I don’t know the specifics. And I do know of a few ways around the blocks we have in place.

    But we do have the most common means of p2p that the average student is going to try to use (torrents, limewire, emule, ect)

  13. moorem2 says:

    In kentucky, they are planning on cutting college funding by 15%. If the programs here are going to be getting less funding, it’s going to make my tuition go up. God forbid, funding for teams and clubs I don’t, nor does 85% of my fellow students participate in, be cut, thus making the cost of tuition go up even more…

    Let us share our music, the only people it hurts is the record execs anyway…

    Don’t limit school funding because we share files…

  14. Chigaimasmaro says:

    Wow, I thought the RIAA and MPAA were a horrible conglomerate before, they look even worse now. They both have gone from attacking ordinary people to the very education system that is poised to help them in the long run.

    The RIAA and MPAA are two major entities that should have been the FIRST to cross the digital divide and adapt new business models to augment and build-up their already monopolistic existence. But, as we can see from this bill, they were the LAST to join the foray, so instead of just trying to be competitive in their respective markets, they are just beating up the very people and institutions that got them to the point that they are now.

    Where would all these politicians, businessmen, and marketing folks be without the colleges and universities that educated them in the beginning?

  15. Chigaimasmaro says:

    This Bill waxes nostalgic because it feels like the Prohibition ridiculousness of the early 1900′s in America. Since, certain individuals wanted to outlaw Alcohol for NO apparent reason, people took it upon themselves to add two new words to their vocabulary, Bath-Tub Gin and a Speakeasy. Just like now with them attacking people and universities, people are gonna add new words to their vocabulary too.

    It’s already started with the word “encryption.”
    I’ve worked very closely with two Universities and their networking staff. It’s maddening going through meetings with just DEALING with the bandwidth issue, now they have to filter stuff AND provide some kind of alternative? Sheesh. What should the Uni’s networking staff compromise first? Everyone’s right to have some kind of privacy on the internet? Or will it be cutting off LEGAL P2P services and getting a tongue lashing from students, faculty and parents when these things are halted?

    This Bill is an unnecessary burden to IT staffs, faculty and students, just because two corporate entities couldn’t embrace new technology.

  16. Sidecutter says:

    So they want to encourage people to use a legal alternative to P2P software. Which, in itself, is perfectly legal and has many legal applications of it’s technology in place to download things from. Legally.

    Let’s outlaw spoons next. Spoons are harmless. Unless I decide to dig your eye out with one. Then it’s a dangerous weapon. Clearly, since it has has potential to be used illegally and can be carried in my pocket, it should classify as a concealed weapon and be considered illegal.

  17. Benstein says:

    All I know is that liberal universities fighting against liberal politicians bribed by the RIAA will make for good conservative talk radio.

  18. mac-phisto says:

    when do we all just put our cards on the table & end this game? according to these companies, every person in america is violating their use policies. technically speaking (their “technically” anyway), we’re all pirates.

    so let’s do this. either throw us all in jail or change the f-ing laws already. i’m tired of this crap.

  19. ethanrik says:

    Sucks — the network filtering they have at my school now, Peer-Guardian, sucks…its slows everything down.

    I am sooooo glad I graduate in May!

  20. asphix20 says:

    Seriously? Shouldn’t we be spending money on things like a cure for cancer, alternate fuel sources, law enforcement (from real crimes that destroy real peoples lives) or funding education with good intentions?

    I hate how with each passing year this country turns into more of a lapdog for the big corporations. As long as we get a treat we’ll sit still and look pretty.

    It’s actually starting to remind me of ancient Japan with the Samurai (corporations) who possessed all the money and power bleeding the people to death.

    The sad thing is the vast majority of the U.S. population is either too stupid to notice, too complacent to care or worse, have become so used to their “necessities” that they’re unable to do what sometimes needs to be done (boycott products, change habbits, not pay 3+ freaking dollars for gas!).

  21. axiomatic says:

    Come on techies. Teach your kids about VPN’s and encryption before they go off to school. No I do not condone copyright violation, but however I do condone questioning authority. Know your rights, and exercise them.

  22. deadlizard says:

    Well, I hope this makes college students get off their butts and vote.

  23. Buran says:

    @goodkitty: Sadly, I don’t think it’s sarcasm at all.

  24. lincolnparadox says:

    @asphix20: Canada already has the cure for cancer. They just need money to get it through human testing. But, since it’s unpatentable they have to rely on government funding and donations.

    [www.depmed.ualberta.ca]

  25. Gann says:

    @lincolnparadox: very interesting.

  26. Ah, wonderful. Americans, remember that when you go to the urologist in 2020, the computers at college won’t have let him look up naughty bits on the Internet.