William Patry, Google’s senior copyright lawyer and a former lawyer for the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, has dissected the provision in the mammoth higher education bill regarding peer-to-peer file sharing on college campuses. And what he writes on his blog Wednesday is not encouraging for colleges. The provision requires colleges to develop plans to use technologies for stopping illegal file sharing and “to the extent practicable” to provide students with subscription based services for downloading movies and music.
After reading a congressional report that clarifies the bill’s language, Mr. Patry concludes that the next Congress is likely to require colleges to use specific technologies to deter students from trading online copyright-protected music and video files. He calls the report “extraordinary” in its “detailed endorsement of private sector products” aimed at thwarting the swapping of these files. The products named in the report are Audible Magic’s CopySense Network Appliance and Red Lambda’s Integrity, which can detect and/or cancel the transfer of copyright-protected music and video files, and Packateer, bandwidth-shaping technology. This report language, he writes, was likely written by the Motion Picture Association of America.
He surmises that the group eventually “will complain about universities’ alleged failure to be MPAA’s cops, and will lobby for mandated use of technologies, along with forfeiture of federal funding for not doing so. Why not throw in a 10 year federal prison term for the president of a university that isn’t up to snuff,” he writes. “Or, how about adopting Sarbanes-Oxley for university officials who will have to swear on penalty of perjury (and imprisonment) that they have fulfilled MPAA’s requirements?”—Andrea L. Foster