A tech-head’s worst nightmare
There are fewer things I hate talking about more as a “tech guy” than illegal downloading and government.
On Nov. 9, the Motion Picture Association of America issued a press release about a bill currently on the House’s plate. This bill, dubbed the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007, will have many advances in college funding and opportunity, except for one interesting thing:
“The bill takes the added step of authorizing the Secretary of Education to award grants to institutions of higher education to develop programs of prevention, education and cost-effective technological solutions to reduce and eliminate the illegal downloading and distribution of intellectual property,” the release said.
Well, now isn’t that very interesting?
I believe, if I am not mistaken, that the House has decided to create a bill that will allow the government to give money to non-profit state schools, so that for-profit movie companies can make even more money?
Now I am of course against illegal downloading. I think that if you like something enough you should rent it or buy it. Online sites like NetFlix.com and Blockbuster.com are very affordable monthly options that can get someone more movies a month than he or she can possibly begin to watch, and they pay for themselves very easily with around four movies a month.
Boom. There is your alternative. Don’t bother spending MY tax dollars on grants that can go to kids coming out of the inner city, people who can’t afford college and people who are in college and working three jobs. That is things that need the money. I am sick of seeing all these dollars go towards crap like this.
That being said, there are some good reasons to limit illegal downloading on campuses. Downloading takes up a lot of bandwidth that could be used for better purposes and doing illegal things on public property is never really a good idea.
But, should we really concentrate our efforts and our cash on this.
It’s one thing to encourage people to stop downloading. It is something else entirely to physically limit someone’s connectivity. And who is to say that those limitations may accidentally block out legitimate work?
It’s a tough question.
Colleges should crack down on illegal downloading. They should spend a little bit of time scanning the network and keeping an eye on network traffic. It’s not just about illegal downloading; it’s good networking practice. Know what goes on in your house so you’re surprised less often.
But the government (and especially the MPAA) should not be responsible for this. I know that movie studios would like to protect their intellectual property — I would, too. But piggybacking on a college scholarship and funding a bill is not the proper way to do this.
Not that regulating this sort of thing is a bad idea, but I can think of at least 20 better ways to spend that money just on this campus alone.
So, my friends in the House: Do your job and listen to the people. Give us more money for scholarships. Give us more money for schools. We need that extra boost for computer labs and buildings and learning equipment; it’s a good investment. But don’t be the pet of the industry. Think for yourselves and give the money to the right cause.
Campus Press Multimedia Editor basically just rocks at life, but is always looking for new technology to ruin his day. He can be contacted at email@example.com.