This Week in LIS - 19 December 2008

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Headline of the Week: A Christmas Gift from the RIAA … or Maybe Not

The InterTubes have been abuzz today with the announcement that the RIAA will abandon their broad scale attempts to sue file sharers. Apparently this approach was costing them too much money for too little return (not a big surprise). Fortunately for Luther students, we had yet to receive a pre-litigation notice from the RIAA, and while this new announcement can perhaps be seen as a good thing for students who conduct illegal file sharing, we can’t just expect the RIAA to pack up their toys and go home.

Alongside the announcement of their cessation of lawsuits came the news that the RIAA is negotiating individual agreements with ISPs to essentially transfer enforcement work over to them when the RIAA complains about file sharing. The new rules of engagement will go something like this:

  • RIAA notifies ISP of claimed copyright infringement through file sharing
  • ISP warns user (up to three times likely)
  • If user continues the claimed infringing activity the ISP will cut off service for a defined period of time

Interestingly, this is pretty much the same game we’ve been playing with the RIAA for two years now. To date this academic year, Luther has received 128 notices of claimed infringement (almost all from the RIAA) against Luther students. We research the individual student in question, pass along the notice, and when we receive multiple complaints, we shut off the student for a defined period of time. (Note: Luther has not negotiated any agreements with the RIAA regarding our policies).

This process takes a fair amount of work, and when looking at ISPs like Mediacom, Comcast, Time Warner, etc., they are going to have to hire a few legions to handle the complaints I’m guessing. But the ISPs see an upside to this that likely is the reason this is happening … they now get external justification to shut off the file sharers who are clogging up their bandwidth. There are going to be a lot of unhappy broadband subscribers out there I am sure. The other notable precedent is the active work of the ISPs to aid the RIAA. This has not happened to this degree before, even though many higher education institutions have followed similar policies.

And of course, excessive file sharers still run the risk of a lawsuit. And of course, sharing files for which you don’t have legal license to distribute remains illegal and unethical. Despite the changes, some things always stay the same.

This Week in LIS on Break

TWILIS will not be published the next two Fridays. It will return Friday, January 9, 2009. Have a happy holiday.

LIS Blog Highlights from the Week

The following articles are sampled from those available on the LIS Blog:

Notes from LIS Council

Agenda items for LIS Council this week included:

  • Update on Web Content Management research
  • Discussion of LIS procedures when users improperly respond to phishing attempts
  • Overview of the Library and Information Studies departmental review
  • Update on review of insurance coverages related to LIS
  • Discussion of copyright policies

NITLE Opportunities

As a member of NITLE (National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education), Luther has the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of developmental and training programs intended for faculty, librarians, and information technologists. Events listed at the link below are currently open for registration by Luther participants. LIS Staff who are interested in participating in an event should speak with Christopher Barth. Faculty who are interested in participating should speak with Lori Stanley. Participation is contingent upon available funding and program acceptance.

Events with Upcoming Registration Deadlines:

  • Creating the Virtual Liberal Arts Campus in Second Life. An instance of the “Special Topics for Instructional Technologists” series. Registration deadline: December 19, 2008. Program Date & Time: January 9, 2009, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Eastern. Delivered online via MIV. 1 program unit.

Complete List of NITLE Opportunities

Next Week in LIS

Notable Internet Resource of the Week: NewsCharts

NewsCharts bills itself as a next generation news aggregator. The service packages together news sources into clusters of topics which then can be displayed graphically or textually. Each chart can contain eight topics, and up to 20 charts are available in their free account. The service is best for tracking broad trends within defined topic areas as the graphical displays can provide an easy way to assess the current chatter. The site offers a number of predefined charts ready to play with, or you can create a free account and make your own.

On the web at

Around the Web

Here are a few links to interesting developments over the past week:

  • Hardware and Technology Tools
    • None
  • Innovation and Design
    • None
  • Software and Operating Systems
    • None