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Wendy Seltzer, STAND AND FIGHT!
Written by Daniel   
Saturday, 29 September 2007 11:41
Copyright lawyer tells universities to resist "copyright bullies"

By Nate Anderson | Published: September 28, 2007 - 12:55PM CT
ARS Technica
Wendy Seltzer, the founder of the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse and a former EFF staff attorney, gave a talk yesterday at Cornell on "Protecting the University from Copyright Bullies." The bullies in question are the RIAA, and the issue is the recording industry's current campaign of both litigation and political pressure. Should universities assist the music industry in identifying the "pirates," or should they do everything in their power to resist?

The title of Seltzer's talk gives the game away. She believes that the mission of the university is to promote academic freedom, research, the testing of boundaries, and the learning of personal responsibility by students and researchers. An open network facilitates such things; one that is filtered and used to watch the activities of its users does not, in her view, produced the sorts of effects that universities want.

The campus has become the latest battleground in the war on file-sharing. The RIAA has taken its fight to the halls of Congress, where it recently failed to secure some legislation that would have required colleges and universities to implement content filtering solutions on their networks and would direct the government to produce a list of the top 25 infringing schools. "Why Congress should be getting into the business of naming names and pointing fingers is beyond me," Seltzer said.

The idea was shot down, but the RIAA has also embarked on an aggressive plan to sue thousands of college students into submission this year, and that plan continues to move forward. Universities, including Cornell, now routinely receive "pre-litigation" letters from the RIAA that contain only an IP address. The group wants universities to pass these letters on to students. The letters offer students the possibility of a several thousand dollars settlement or the more expensive alternative of going to court. If the letters don't produce a response, the RIAA then files a "John Doe" lawsuit and obtains a subpoena to force the university to turn over the student information (some of these subpoenas were recently quashed on technical grounds). Once that happens, a specific lawsuit is filed against the student.... More    Comment in the Forms
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