Posted on June 27, 2007 in Adam Moore, Informatics, IP, Ischool, RIAA, UW by Brian RoweComments Off

I must apologize for the vagueness of my last post. Now that I have calmed down, I can make a reasonable post on why I am so angry with the University of Washington’s new policy.

To clarify, this Monday UW sent an email to all student notifying them that UW was cooperating with the RIAA by distributing prelawsuit letters to student who have IP addresses that the RIAA claimed are file sharing copyrighted martial. (at this time I am looking for an official copy of the email, if you still have it please forwarded it to me)

My objections to this practice are twofold; first UW is enabling the RIAA to prey on the student they should be protecting.

The RIAA has set settlement amounts at a level where seeking legal advice is more expensive then just paying the settlement.
The RIAA is missing using a law designed to stop mass market commercial infringement against student who are not profiting.
The RIAA is intimidating students to the point of suggesting that some student should give up college saving and drop out of school to pay the settlements.

Second everything I learned thought the Ischool’s Informatics program is in direct conflict with helping the RIAA lock away information.

I was first introduced to John Perry Barlow’s article, A framework for patents and copyrights in the Digital Age. (Everything you know about intellectual property is wrong.) Adam Moore’s. introduction to Informatics 300. This same class covered “Intellectual Property: A Non-Posnerian Law and Economics Approach,”(warning pdf version)
by Tom G. Palmer. The Ischool focused on the changes in the information landscape and equipping student to understand shape the future. Finlay my capstone project from 2 years ago identified areas of conflict between Human Rights and Intellectual property including distribution of nonrivalrous goods to people regardless of economic standing.

Now that these conflicts are becoming realities in our society it appears the University of Washington is choosing to entrench antiquated economic models of the past instead of becoming a leader in creating real solution to help all access knowledge.

I have a hard time reconciling the academic teaching for the University of Washington, especially the Ischool, with this new policy.

PS More on this next week including the Ischool’s vision and some responses from UW’s administration.