This article sets out a straight forward plan for how universities can support student innovation and protect their students from unnecessary prosecution (see very bottom of this post).
Students Who Push Tech Boundaries Should Be Encouraged, Not Punished
By April Glaser for Wired
From the article:
Notably, after faculty members and students circulated an open letter, MIT President Rafael Reif announced plans to support the Tidbit innovators, and MIT sent a formal letter to New Jersey’s Attorney General, asking it to withdraw the subpoena. The open letter stated that the subpoena from the New Jersey Attorney General will have, “a chilling effect on MIT teaching and research.” Soon after, MIT faculty and MIT students wrote additional letters of support, asking New Jersey to withdraw the subpoena. Over 800 members of the MIT community signed onto these letters.
President Reif appears to get it. In response to the outcry over the Tidbit controversy, Reif announced that MIT plans to create a new legal resource for students threatened by legal challenges as a result of their innovative work and entrepreneurial pursuits. “In the case of someone creating an innovative new product and then getting into legal trouble doing something that was a part of their classwork — then, MIT absolutely does have a legal interest to be involved,” Ethan Zuckerman, director of MIT’s Center for Civic Media, told the press.
Also from the article:
Now is the time for students and campus communities that want to vitalize innovation to speak up and demand university support. There are some simple steps that universities can take to foster inventiveness in their campus communities:
1. Create a legal intake mechanism or program for students who receive subpoenas and are threatened by computer crime laws. Student innovators need to know where to go to receive help.
2. Publish a guide on CFAA and in-state computer crime laws so that students and researchers can better understand the contours of the laws that may be leveraged against them.
3. Universities should be pushing for computer crime legal reform and come out with strong institutional support for reform efforts on the federal and state level.
Just as laws are frequently outdated by the accelerated pace of technology, campus policies often lag behind in addressing the potential legal needs of their most innovative students exploring the frontiers of digital invention. Yet universities don’t have to move at the slothful pace of legal change.