MPAA Encourages Universities to Block “Rogue” Sites

MPAA Encourages Universities to Block “Rogue” Sites

Daniel M. Mandil, the MPAA’s Chief Content Protection Officer reminds college presidents of their obligations under the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 to fight illegal P2P on campus networks, and encourages them to warn students or actually block access when they attempt to visit “rogue sites.”

The MPAA has taken the time to remind college presidents around the country of their respective institution’s obligations under the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 to fight illegal P2P on campus networks.

The HEOA, approved by Congress back in 2008, requires academic institutions to submit an annual disclosure detailing their policies with respect to illegal P2P, including the disciplinary actions they plan to take against those students who engage in the illegal distribution of copyrighted material.

The HEOA formally went into effect this past July.

In the letter the MPAA notes that compliance with the HEOA is a “condition for receiving student aid,” and that more importantly, helps to protect American workers.

“The Act was passed in recognition of the fact that more than 2.4 million workers in all 50 states depend on the entertainment industry for their jobs,” writes Daniel M. Mandil, the MPAA’s Chief Content Protection Officer. “For these workers and their families, online theft means declining incomes, lost jobs, reduced health and retirement benefits, and a lessened ability to provide their children an education at institutions like yours.”

It’s a bunch of nonsense. The movie industry has enjoyed year after year of record profits and global ticket sales are up some 30% since 2005. Plus, preventing students from downloading video content on campus won’t protect movie industry workers’ incomes, health or retirement benefits. And let’s say it does. What about the incomes, health or retirement benefits of workers in the other industries where the students currently spend the money the movie industry is trying to rein in?

Now if your recall, the MPAA once blamed college students for 44% of domestic piracy losses. It later revised the figure to a miniscule 15% which, if you subtract students who live off campus and who thus won’t be affected by the legislation, means that they’re responsible for 10% at most.

Mandil goes on to recommend several ways that colleges can comply with the HEOA:

  1. Educational seminars for notice recipients
  2. Monitored “opt in” programs for users who wish to use P2P protocols
  3. Deploying legal content portals
  4. Warning users or actually blocking access when they attempt to visit “rogue sites.”

The last suggestion is the most troubling. The MPAA recommends filtering the Internet of “rogue sites” without giving them the benefit of trial or due process, and all for a problem that comprises perhaps less than 10% of domestic piracy.

The term “rogue sites” is something the MPAA and other copyright holders have been tossing around as Congress considers the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). They’ve been using it as a way of convincing people that some sites on the Internet should be censored. After all, nobody likes anything “rogue” right?

But, filtering the Internet is not something an institution of higher learning should be engaged in.

Stay tuned.

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