Universities resist RIAA information requests

August 12th, 2008

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article, Antipiracy Campaign Exasperates Colleges, on how Universities are begining to resist increased requests by the RIAA to fight music file sharing.

“Talk to the chief information officer at just about any American university, and he will probably say that his institution has bent over backward to help the Recording Industry Association of America curb illegal file sharing on his campus. He will also tell you he’s angry.

On e-mail lists and in interviews, university CIO’s and other information-technology professionals say their mission is getting derailed and staff time is being overloaded by copyright takedown notices, “prelitigation settlement letter,” RIAA-issued subpoenas, lobbying efforts, and panicked students accused of piracy.

Now, feeling burdened and betrayed, some of those universities are quietly fighting back, resisting requests for information and trying to quash subpoenas. Those that do so, though, find that their past compliance — and the continued compliance of their peer institutions — is being held against them.

“We feel like we’ve been led down the garden path, and our interest in working in partnership and leading our mission as educators is now being used against us,” said Tracy Mitrano, director of IT policy at Cornell University.

For years the entertainment industry and higher education have considered themselves allies in the fight to curb illegal file sharing on campuses, most visibly through the Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities Technology Task Force. Over the past year, joint-committee members from universities say tensions have grown, primarily because they feel betrayed by the industry’s lobbying to force filtering technology on university networks.”