RIAA and MPAA - using schools as sales points

By Jon Newton 8/11/03

The RIAA and MPAA have already successfully penetrated police forces and other enforcement agencies around the world and routinely use them as unpaid entertainment industry cops. Now, using thousands of subpoenas issued, very economically, from one Washington, DC, court-house, they're well on the way to doing the same thing with schools and ISPs across America.

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Loyola, MIT, Boston College, Rensselaer, Penn State, Princeton and Michigan Tech are just a few of the teaching institutions the RIAA and MPAA are relentlessly bending to their will and when students turn up for their freshman orientation at Yale, this month, "We have new language in our undergraduate regulations and are planning an added emphasis on this [file sharing] topic," Yale general counsel Dorothy K. Robinson is quoted as saying in the Lafayette Daily Advertiser.

But there's far worse.

The two Hollywood-funded trade organizations have developed a scheme both devious in concept and frightening in application.

They're using a group of horribly naive, to put the best possible construction on the situation, administrators to turn American schools into direct under-the-counter marketing channels for Big Five 'product,' with the subpoenas as the entry points, and the Joint Committee of Higher Education and Content Communities as their cover.

For review and consideration
Online uploading and downloading represent in-your-face competition to the music industry and accordingly, must be stopped dead, or significantly curtailed, at the worst. The labels can then move in to fill at least some of the vacuum created by the discontinuance of file sharing in schools by supplying the schools with their own 'downloads'.

Anyone who doubts this has but to study the list of committee members at the bottom of this item.

Yale's Robinson, for example, sits on the committee, which has as its chairman Penn U president Graham Spanier. But the real power is the co-chair, RIAA president Cary-Sue Sherman.

The cover-title for Step One is Technology Opportunities for Addressing Issues Associated with Peer-to-Peer File Sharing on the University and College Campus. It came on April 28 and involves, "helping to reduce copyright infringement and bandwidth saturation that occur through widespread use of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing on college and university campuses".

These are euphemisms for snooping file-share networks and using the results to win subpoenas with which to intimidate administrators into handing over the names of students the RIAA claims were/are using school networks for file sharing.

"After a period of review by Joint Committee representatives, a report documenting the technical characteristics of proposed solutions will then be distributed to university and college representatives for review and consideration," says the committee web page here. "The idea is to create a reliable knowledge base of information about the technologies available for addressing copyright infringement on peer-to-peer networks."

For 'knowledge base' read a list of companies who'd love to open up US schools as POS (point of sale) points, and for 'technologies available for addressing copyright infringement' read RIAA and MPAA sponsored software and hardware products.

But the title for Step Two, which seeks, "information on available or planned technologies that might include such tools as traffic auditing; bandwidth shaping; file blocking, screening, and filtering; and network performance analysis," says it all.

It's Opportunities for Online Distribution of Music, Movies, and Other Digital Content on the University and College Campus..

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,

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 p2pnet.net 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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