New Bill Would Cut Financial Aid To Schools Who Don't Police P2P, Sign Up With Napster

Ars Technica is reporting that there is a provision in a massive new education bill that would punish schools that don’t police p2p traffic on their networks by cutting federal financial aid. In addition, the bill requires that schools offer an industry approved alternative to file sharing, such as Napster or Rhapsody.

From Ars Technica:

Under the terms of the act, which is cosponsored by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), schools will have to inform students of their official policies about copyright infringement during the financial aid application and disbursement process. In addition, students will be warned about the possible civil and criminal penalties for file-sharing as well as the steps the schools take to prevent and detect illicit P2P traffic.

That’s not all: schools would have to give students an alternative to file-sharing while evaluating technological measures (i.e., traffic shaping, deep packet inspection) that they could deploy to thwart P2P traffic on campus networks. Many–if not most–schools already closely monitor traffic on their networks, with some (e.g., Ohio University) blocking it altogether, and the bill would provide grants to colleges so they could evaluate different technological solutions.

The most objectionable part of the bill is the part that could force schools into signing up for music subscription services. In order to keep that beloved federal aid money flowing, universities would have to “develop a plan for offering alternatives to illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property.”

Have we no worse educational problems to worry about? Is Congress really prepared to tell a school, “Sorry, you’ve lost your funding because Billy is letting people download music on your network?”

MPAA chairman and CEO Dan Glickman is:

“Intellectual property theft is a worldwide problem that hurts our economy and costs more than 140,000 American jobs every year,” said Glickman in a statement. “We are pleased to see that Congress is taking this step to help keep our economy strong by protecting copyrighted material on college campuses.”

Loss of federal financial aid to a college would result in students losing all federal funding, including Pell grants and student loans.

This is the funding that allows low-income students who would not otherwise have been able to afford college (like me, for example) to get a higher education. In a letter to Congress, the Association of American Universities wrote:

Such an extraordinarily inappropriate and punitive outcome would result in all students on that campus losing their Federal financial aid-including Pell grants and student loans that are essential to their ability to attend college, advance their education and acquire the skills necessary to compete in the 21st century economy. Lower income students, those most in need of Federal financial aid, would be harmed most under the entertainment industry’s proposal.

New bill would punish colleges, students who don’t become copyright cops [Ars Technica]
(Photo:George Miller [D-California, 7th Congressional District])