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$750 for downloading a pop song - that's Ludacris!

(03/26/10 10:24am)

Don't say that we didn't warn you: Copyright can be strong, strong medicine. Try "$750 per song" strong. For all of the thousands of Internet users who skate by unpunished for posting episodes of "Lost" or "The Daily Show" on YouTube, there's the occasional Whitney Harper to remind us that "everybody's doing it" won't get you out of a speeding ticket, and it won't get you off the hook for downloading copyright-protected music without paying for it either. Whitney was a 14-year-old Texas eighth-grader when she started using what was at the time a music file-sharing site, KaZaA (now operating as a paid subscription service) to download and share songs.

At UCSD, the remedy for bad speech is ... no speech?

(03/01/10 3:41pm)

The SPLC's Adam Goldstein, in his debut blog on the Huffington Post's new collegiate media site, offers a provocative take on why the University of California-San Diego may be violating the First Amendment in its response to the racially offensive remarks of a few judgment-impaired campus agitators. Staff members of The Koala -- a no-holds-barred humor publication that perennially pushes the boundaries of good taste -- exacerbated campus tensions over some fraternity jokesters' racially themed cookout, by making sport of the controversy (including, reportedly, using the n-word) during a campus television broadcast. In response, the president of UCSD's student government, in an action ratified last week by  the Student Senate, impounded funding for all student media -- impacting some 30 media outlets, most entirely unconnected with The Koala -- to compel their editors to agree to a civil-speech code as a condition for continued funding. On Friday, University of California President Mark G.

UWIRE makes a comeback

(03/31/10 4:36pm)

UWIRE has started the climb back to the top of college content-sharing services. After abruptly disappearing six months ago, the Web site plans to re-launch tomorrow (April 1). “Our main focus to start with is to get back to the core of the business, which is the wire service, to really have the best content available and slowly grow outward from that into other areas,” said Tom Orr, UWIRE supervisor and general manager of, UWIRE’s partner site. UWIRE is an online wire service founded in 1994 that aggregates college newspaper content to share with college and professional news organizations. While the reasons for UWIRE’s departure are kept under wraps, CEO Joe Weasel said on that the hiatus resulted from a "directional change" involving Palestra partner Fox “that happened rather quickly and it happened in such a way that we were left with very few options…” By decreasing the costs to run the business, keeping its 800 members and planning to start new partnerships, Orr said UWIRE is positioning itself to be back in the lead of the college content-sharing market. “We really do regret what happened and how it happened, but ultimately I think it helped us make the changes that we needed to make to be a better company today,” Orr said. To read more about how content-sharing organizations like UWIRE, the College News Network, and the Huffington Post College could affect college journalism, check out the upcoming Spring 2010 issue of the SPLC Report magazine.

"Timberland High School" becomes a national punchline. But there's nothing funny about hurting kids.

(03/29/10 1:30pm)

When high school administrators confiscate student newspapers or force students to change what they've written, the explanation is almost invariably some variety of, "You're making the school look bad." But at Missouri's Timberland High School, the most talented muckraker could not dredge up a bucket of sleaze muddying the school's reputation more than its own administrators have. First, the school massively overreacted and stripped the staff of the Wolf's Howl newspaper of their long-standing editorial independence over, of all things, the editors' decision to accept a local church's ad encouraging girls not to have abortions. Then, the school confiscated and refused to distribute an issue of the newspaper that violated Principal Winston Rogers' "zero tolerance for tattoos" policy -- because of a postage-stamp-sized image of a student's breast-cancer ribbon tattoo, memorializing a cherished friend.