Nov 152007
Authors: Sean O’Key Daily News Ball State U.

(U-WIRE) MUNCIE, Ind. – Anarchists rejoice – the federal government has found another way to interfere. This time, it’s with your education.

Last week, Rep. George Miller of California introduced the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007.

The bill includes provisions that would force universities to institute policies and procedures regarding illegal downloading and file sharing.

They would be required to “develop plans for alternatives to online bootlegging to be offered to students and plans for exploring technology-based bootlegging deterrents.”

To my knowledge, this is the first time Congress has attempted to force universities to blow money on expensive technology-based impedances that haven’t even been proven fully effective. The systems currently employed by many universities are only effective on their respective campuses.

The bill also recommends services like Ruckus, an advertising supported online file sharing service, be available to students. While Ruckus is available at many campuses, usually for a reasonable price, students who use Mac operating systems are left in the dark – the system is Windows-only.

But the bill goes quite a bit further.

If a college fails to meet the standards imposed by the new bill, it stands to lose billions of dollars in federal financial aid.

Here’s a scenario: a small handful of students are caught illegally downloading music or even simply sharing their personal copies between them. Once they’re busted, does the entire institution suffer?

If this bill sees the light of day – then yes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no proponent of bootlegging any form of intellectual property. I’m one of the first to acknowledge file sharing is one of most popular crimes of our time.

The Motion Picture Association of America tells us almost half the industry’s domestic revenue loss can be blamed on students. That’s $250 million that college students alone are responsible for sending down the drain.

I used to download music illegally. But to be honest, I got fed up with poor quality radio recordings and decided it was better to support the artists directly. What’s 99 cents a song? (Thank you, iTunes Music Store.)

That the bill would give the government power to yank money from universities in reaction to the fallacy of a few isn’t the worst part.

That we’ve lost almost 4,000 soldiers in Iraq, and Congress is worried about people illegally downloading Britney’s latest album is the true problem.

I’ve heard of separation of church and state. But at what point did we decide to separate logic and common sense from our legislation?

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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