Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Bad Idea

I happened upon this tidbit today (thanks to a post on Slashdot) about how the US Congress is planning to require colleges enact a policy that restricts students downloading music and movies, or the college or university will lose their federal financial aid. Hello? I can barely begin to describe what a bad policy this is. The worst part is, I'm sure the RIAA and MPAA (the watchdog, copyright enforcement arms of the music and movie industries) wrote the legislation involved. This will result in punishing a class of people (financial aid recipients) for the crimes of another group (illegal file downloaders), and makes the colleges & universities the enforcers. This is bad legislation. It's being reviewed in committee right now, and it should not pass.

I believe untrammeled music and video file sharing is wrong, and should not be promoted. I don't believe, because it's done over publicly available networks, that networks should be penalized. And I don't believe there should be some vicarious liability assigned to financial aid recipients as a result. The record industry is terrified their current business model is going to collapse, and they may be right. Denying financial aid to higher education is not the answer. It's that simple.

And in a related question, where are the media on this issue? Could it be that the American news media are all owned by conglomerates that also own record and movie companies? Have Time-Warner and Fox and the major networks recused themselves from covering the debate, because their interests are at issue? I never thought I'd ever see this level of cynicism in our government and our media. This makes Ron Paul's proposal to abolish the Department of Education seem downright Solonic.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Amazing Content

I was over browsing around on the website of Poetry Foundation, and found a treasure of poetry, old and new, as well as blogs (come on, they publish Jeffrey McDaniel and Patricia Smith!). There's a problem with the way the Poetry Magazine site renders poetry on browsers other than Internet Explorer (I really hope they fix that), but the rest of the site is fabulous. There's almost a hundred years of archives, and it's among the best poetry published in the USA during that time. Impressive. There's also a blog (the same one where they published McDaniel and Smith, and dozens of others), called Harriet. I expect I shall waste many hours there (and on the rest of the site in general) in the future. How about a "poetry search" where you can specify any of about 8 different criteria? How about a search for poems on a certain occasion? Good reviews. Good poems. Links. Photos. The works. See ya.

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