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Harvard Law: ‘Universities Should Tell the RIAA to Take a Hike’

Harvard Law: ‘Universities Should Tell the RIAA to Take a Hike’

Says they should be committed to the advancement and education of the youth of this country, and should never be perceived as doing the bidding of corporate interests.

In a recent monthly newsletter sent out by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, an article titled “Universities to RIAA: Take a Hike” points out that it is the university’s duty to follow its own mission and not that of a private business trying to protect sources of revenue.

The authors point out that Harvard’s charter calls for “The advancement of all good literature, arts, and sciences; the advancement and education of youth in all manner of good literature, arts, and sciences; and all other necessary provisions that may conduce to the education of the … youth of this country….” No where in this charter does it state an obligation to protect and enforce the interests of private commercial entities of this country and nor should it.

The RIAA’s charter, on the other hand, is to “…promote the financial interests of its corporate members ” even if that means preserving an obsolete business model for its members.” There is a distinct difference between the two that all should take notice of.

They further:

The university strives to create knowledge, to open the minds of students to that knowledge, and to enable students to take best advantage of their educational opportunities. The university has no legal obligation to deliver the RIAA’s messages. It should do so only if it believes that’s consonant with the university’s mission.
We believe it is not.

Leave it to Harvard University, one of the country’s most renowned educational institutions, to make by far the most compelling argument for why it is that colleges and universities caught up in the RIAA’s latest reign of terror have no obligation to assist them in their efforts. To become an “… unpaid enforcement arm of the provincial interests of the RIAA” only means that ones service as un unbiased center of higher learning becomes tainted by ones new service as a conduit for the fiscal concerns of outside corporate interests.

The authors continue:

Universities are special places, set off in time and space for students to have an opportunity most will not again have: to learn together in a community that cherishes openness above all else. If the university is perceived as doing the bidding of any particular industry, the message we’re sending to students is that the university is willing to let commercial interests intrude.

So very true. Again, by becoming entangled in the interests of business rather than education, it only serves to denigrate the heart and soul of the school’s very mission: The advancement of all good literature, arts, and sciences; the advancement and education of youth in all manner of good literature, arts, and sciences; and all other necessary provisions that may conduce to the education of the … youth of this country….”

The authors also point out that if students break the law and engage in illegal file-sharing, then they “should pay the price.” It’s just that it’s not the job of an educational institution to enforce the RIAA’s blatant bullying tactics and frequent circumvention of the legal process. By suing those who usually can least afford it, i.e. teenagers and college students, and threatening them to settle out of court or risk further legal wrath and a lengthy, expensive trial, the RIAA has made clear its intent to win its case not in the courtroom but, in the wallets and purses of as many people as possible.

Bravo Harvard Law.

I only wish the University of Washington and other educational institutions who have decided to help out the RIAA shared your sentiments.

Jared Moya
I've been interested in P2P since the early, high-flying days of Napster and KaZaA. I believe that analog copyright laws are ill-suited to the digital age, and that art and culture shouldn't be subject to the whims of international entertainment industry conglomerates. Twitter | Google Plus


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