Oh, Congress

From Ars Technica, Congress has sent letters to various universities looking to see how they combat “copyright piracy.”

But the surveys weren’t just to find out what’s being done, as House Judiciary Committee member Lamar Smith (R-TX) made a veiled threat to universities that do not provide satisfactory answers back to Congress. “If we do not receive acceptable answers, Congress will be forced to act,” Smith said in a statement.

The language they use in the letter and provided questions certainly betray the views of some representatives of Congress. The lists themselves were apparently based on lists generated from the MPAA and RIAA. That doesn’t make them inappropriate by any means, but it would make me want to examine their methodologies. ^_^

Copyright is complicated. The problems with infringement and the system itself are not going to be solved easily. Discussion on the Ars article itself raises some interesting challenges. Universities are going to have a rougher time of it in the immediate future, I believe, with this and publishers taking a harder line on electronic reserves.

Update: Here’s a link to the letter in PDF form.

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