The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Friday, May 16, 2003

File Sharing Site License Fee Included in Your College Tuition Bill?

A President Tries to Settle the Controversy Over File Sharing

"Right now Mr. Spanier is pursuing two very different tacks. One is a policy of tough enforcement: Penn State has already started monitoring its network for file-sharing activity and shuts down any it finds.

The other tack -- little more than a suggestion at this point -- is more radical and may reshape the debate on file sharing. Why not pay a record-industry-approved music service a yearly, blanket fee, Mr. Spanier wonders, and let students download songs as they please? Record-industry officials are skeptical, but say the idea is worth talking about....

However, some campus technology officials and technology-law scholars say Mr. Spanier's proposals could create a whole new set of headaches for institutions and set precedents that threaten traditional academic freedoms. Besides, they say, some file sharing is legitimate. Students can use the same file-sharing systems to trade class notes and research materials, as well as songs that some musicians have released online with no copyright restrictions.

Blocking or examining network transmissions on the basis of content leads down a slippery slope, says Gregory A. Jackson, chief information officer of the University of Chicago. As for offering students legal forms of sharing movies or music, Mr. Jackson finds that an interesting solution, but one fraught with difficult questions: How much does the service cost? How long will the files last? Is the university responsible if students swap them?

Fundamentally, he says, these shouldn't be higher-education issues. "I'm worried that we are heading down a path that will wildly complicate our lives, all to preserve something that is essentially archaic" -- the record companies' existing business model of selling CD's and tapes, he says. "Graham seems to have this crusade, which I don't fully understand....'

Cary H. Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, says that setting up legitimate subscription services at colleges has potential, but that the offerings of those services would almost certainly fall short of what students can now find on KaZaA and its competitors. "Graham's vision is KaZaA, but legal," he says. But because there are so many artists with various contract stipulations, "the chances are, we won't be able to do that....'

However, he warns that a legitimate service will never get off the ground while KaZaA, Grokster, Morpheus, and other free services are still around. "If you don't control piracy, the legitimate services can't compete. If KaZaA is out there offering all the music all the time for free, why would people pay anything?' " [The Chronicle]

Mr. Sherman, meet Mr. iTunes Music Store. Mr. Proof iTunes, meet Mr. Clueless.

An excellent article - make sure you read the whole thing because it covers a range of issues involved here. Plus, Siva Vaidhyanathan throws down a challenge to the music industry. Let's see if they take him up on it.

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Harry Potter at the Witching Hour

Plan to Potter Around Oak Park Next Month

"But you don't have to be a wizard, and you don't have to be in London to pay a visit to that fabled alley.

Just go to Oak Park Avenue and Lake Street in west suburban Oak Park on Friday, June 20. For that one night, a stretch of shops will be transformed into Diagon Alley to mark the first sale of the new Harry Potter book.

Starting about 9 p.m., the Magic Tree children's bookstore will become Flourish & Blott's bookstore, Cafe Winberie morphs into the Leaky Cauldron, and C. Foster Toys will take on the appearance of Quality Quidditch Supplies.

In fact, most of the businesses on the street will shed the mundane for the magical and start selling Harry Potter-inspired merchandise or refreshments.

Even US Bank will become Gringott's Wizarding Bank, with goblin-led tours to its basement vault.

Many characters from the book will be strolling about, as well....

The idea originated with a couple of her employees who noticed the success the nearby Oberweis Dairy had when it stayed open late for the release of the last Harry Potter book, which went on sale at midnight." [Chicago Sun-Times]

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Another Good Reason to Blog Your News

A Simple Tool for Better eGovernment

"Dave Fletcher reports that Ferret, a publication of the Utah State Library, is now available as a weblog. Ferret publishes links and editorial about web sites that may be of interest to Utah State agencies. They're too modest. These web sites are probably of interest to anyone with an interest in government. Two things of note:

  1. As Dave points out, now that its a blog, it will probably be more current.
  2. More importantly, now that its a blog, there's an RSS feed. (check on the right hand column for the link)." [Windley's Enterprise Computing Weblog]

I keep telling folks that one of the best reasons to use blogging software is that you automatically get an RSS feed (well, you need a little extra help if you're using Blogger, but it can still be done). This simple fact can not be over-emphasized because most of us don't have the slightest clue how to generate our own RSS.

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