Meet Barry K. Robinson

by Jon Newton, 11/11/03

The Register's Ashlee Vance thinks people might like to meet Barry K. Robinson who, she points out here, both sits on Penn State University's Board of Trustees and , "serves as senior counsel for none other than the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). This is a handy coincidence. You might recall that Penn State announced a deal last week to subsidize the Napster music service and give all of its students free music downloads."

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Indeed. But as we've been saying for more than a year, it's a lot worse than that, and goes much, much deeper.

Penn's cosy business relationship with the RIAA is, in fact, naught but the tip of the iceberg and when Penn president Graham Spanier agreed to serve alongside RIAA president Cary Sherman on the so-called Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities (JCHEEC), the university effectively became Hollywood's educational marketing division, with Spanier as salesman-in-chief.

Spanier is seen as having helped to develop a clever solution to a problem that's plagued learning institutions throughout America. However, the 'problem' came about thanks entirely to Spanier's partners - the record labels and their RIAA who cold-bloodedly victimized thousands of students across the US through their continuing p2p subpoena campaign which, not at all incidentally, cowed school authorities into dealing with the music industry in the first place.

Because although the Napsterization of Penn is being dressed up as a way to educate students against the alleged evils of p2p file sharing, to enforce its [Penn's] strong policies against copyright infringement and to provide legal alternatives to illegal downloading, it's actually nothing less than the bridgehead for Hollywood's invasion of the American school system.

Ultimately, this will spread to other universities, as Spanier and his friends in the entertainment industry brag unabashedly, and from them to every school with a music system. That's every school. And once Hollywood has the US educational system drawn and quartered, it'll start 'educating' teaching institutions in other countries.

No? "Penn State University has announced that it is going to revolutionize the music world," trumpets the university here. Is that the school 's raison d'etre?

Nor will it end with music file sharing. 'Hollywood' is just a catch-all phrase for the major corporate movie studios, record labels, hardware and software companies, publishers, and so on.

The door is wide open. There are already all kinds of other commercial entities on campuses. But they didn't get there by all-but blackmailing the school authorities and many (most?) of them offer needed services such as banking or the sale of educational materials.

"Only through a multi-pronged approach will the promise of the burgeoning digital era be fulfilled," says Jack Valenti, president and ceo of the (MPAA Motion Picture Association of America) on the committee's official Educause web page here. "Our industry is committed to providing consumers with the best possible viewing experience and the widest array of options by which they can be enjoyed. The Digital Future will benefit everyone: Computer makers, chip makers, consumer electronics manufacturers, and the creative community, but most of all it will benefit the American economy and millions of American families."

Actually, it will benefit Hollywood, and Hollywood alone. Hollywood is about 'entertainment,' not education and not benefitting society. It's about getting its way over all resistance. 'Hollywood' is not a service industry. It has no intrinsic value. In fact, in most respects Hollywood values, morals and philosophies run counter to those of the educational system.

Broadcast Flag, the nightmare through which Hollywood hopes to quite literally control how, when and where consumners - you - use entertainment industry product, is now fast becoming reality. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has just formally approved broadcast flag for digital TV. And that's only the beginning.

Meanwhile, the JCHEEC is succeeding beyond the entertainment industry's wildest dreams. Not only has it used the RIAA's subpoena campaign to cow school authorities across America into cooperating with it, it's also actually managed to organize a committee on which educators serve alongside the very people who sued them into compliance.

Look very carefully at the names on the list below, and then ask yourself if this is really about education. Also ask yourself what the IFPI, the international arm of the entertainment industry, is doing with a place on a supposedly American committee.

Barry K. Robinson is not alone.

Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities Members

Higher Education Representatives
Molly Corbett Broad; president, University of North Carolina; John L. Hennessy, president, Stanford University; Charles Phelps; provost, University of Rochester; Dorothy K. Robinson, vp and general counsel, Yale University; nd, Graham Spanier (Cochair), president, Pennsylvania State University.

Mark Luker, vp, EDUCAUSE; Shelley Steinbach, vp and general counsel, American Council on Education; John Vaughn, executive vp, and, Association of American Universities.

Entertainment Industry Representatives
Roger Ames, chairman and ceo, Warner Music Group; Matthew T. Gerson, senior vp, US Public Policy and government relations, Vivendi Universal; Sherry Lansing, chair, Paramount Pictures; Hilary Rosen, ex-chair and ceo, RIAA; Cary Sherman (cochair), president, RIAA; and, Jack Valenti, president and ceo, MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America).

Fritz Attaway, executive vp, government relations and Washington general counsel, MPAA; Troy Dow, vp and general counsel for technology and new media, MPAA; Mitch Glazier, senior vp, government relations and legislative counsel, Vivendi Universal; Barry Robinson, senior counsel for corporate affairs, RIAA; and, Jonathan Whitehead, vp and anti-piracy counsel, RIAA.

Technology Task Force of the Joint Committee

Higher Education Members
Charles Phelps (chair); Dave Lambert, vp and cio, Georgetown University; and, Michael McRobbie, vp for information technology and cio, Indiana University

Task Force Staff
Mark Luker, vp, EDUCAUSE

Entertainment Industry Liaisons to the Technology Task Force
Cary Sherman (senior liaison); Joseph Cates, vp, advance technology, Universal Music Group; Dr Richard Gooch, IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry); Brad Hunt, senior vp and cto, MPAA; and, Jonathan Whitehead, MPAA.

Liaison Staff
Bruce Block, senior vp for technology, RIAA.


Jon Newton is the editor of and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge you to explore it.


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