"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]
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.