Senate takes strong aim at college piracy


WASHINGTON -- Colleges and universities will have to tell the government what steps they are taking to curb piracy on their networks under an amendment to higher education legislation adopted Tuesday by the Senate.

The amendment, part of a package of measures adopted by lawmakers as part of the Higher Education Reauthorization Act, would force all universities to tell the Department of Education:

-- What they are doing to educate students about the evils of copyright piracy.

-- What steps they are taking to prevent and detect unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials on university networks.

-- Details of campus policies and disciplinary actions taken when university computer systems are used for unauthorized file-sharing on peer-to-peer networks.

A combination of computer-savvy, super-fast university networks and a cavalier attitude toward copyright piracy makes college students among the most likely to illegally download copyrighted works.

MPAA chairman and CEO Dan Glickman praised the Senate action, which came at the behest of Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

"Some college students are abusing powerful taxpayer-funded computer networks to download and distribute movies and other copyrighted material, which is why we are committed to working with universities to develop and implement plans to address this problem," Glickman said. "We commend Senator Reid for his leadership in getting this important legislation passed through the Senate, which will help encourage universities to do more."

By some estimates, motion picture piracy results in total lost output of $20.5 billion annually among U.S. industries. It costs $5.5 billion in lost U.S. wages. Absent piracy in the U.S., 141,000 jobs would have been created as well as $837 million in additional tax revenue; 44% of the total piracy loss to the U.S. film industry is attributable to campus piracy.

"The theft of music on campus and elsewhere not only hinders record companies' investment in new bands of tomorrow but poses serious problems for schools whose students use P2P networks to engage in copyright theft," RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Bainwol said. "This legislation serves as an important step in the right direction, but we need to maintain positive momentum to properly address the issue of campus music theft."