Campus Anti-Piracy Fight Reaches Congress

The Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) latest offensive against online piracy at U.S. colleges arrived at the doorsteps of Congress Wednesday with RIAA boss Hilary Rosen declaring it a “growing epidemic.”

Rosen, who will quit as RIAA
chairman and CEO at the end of this year, testified before a key House panel
on the evils of peer-to-peer network piracy at universities nationwide,
warning that a “substantial portion” of the 2.6 billion files that are
downloaded illegally every month comes from college computer systems.

“The unauthorized P2P file sharing problem poses tremendous difficulties not
only for copyright owners and artists, but also for administrators on our
nations’ college campuses,” Rosen told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on
Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property.

“Rampant file sharing of music and video content imposes a heavy toll on
all of us. Despite education campaigns about the illegality of file sharing,
and despite numerous court decisions clearly holding that copying music,
movies and other copyrighted files is against the law, there is an alarming
disregard among students for Internet theft,” she said in testimony before
the Committee, which is chaired by Texas Congressman Lamar Smith.

Rosen’s appearance in Washington comes as the recording industry is
training it’s anti-piracy
guns
on students in 2,300 college campuses. The RIAA and other trade
groups sent a letter to college administrators last October seeking the
co-operation of network administrators to eliminate the peer-to-peer
networks.

In her testimony, Rosen spelled out the association’s stance and warned
that file-sharing abuses had “overtaxed numerous college computer systems,
slowing processing of legitimate information to a crawl due to the
uncommonly large number and size of files being uploaded and
downloaded.”

She urged additional “proactive steps” to stop the “unlawful P2P
applications that have found almost instantaneous acceptance among college
students.”

In strong language, the RIAA boss condemned the “alarming disregard” for
theft of copyrighted works on government-subsidized computer networks.
“Despite education campaigns about the illegality of file sharing, and
despite numerous court decisions clearly holding that copying music, movies
and other copyrighted files is against the law, there is an alarming
disregard among students for internet theft,” she declared.

“Moreover, students are often unaware of the dangers of these P2P
applications: compromising campus network security, making their own hard
drives containing their personal data available to others, and opening the
campus networks to computer viruses,” Rosen said.

With Penn State University president Graham Spanier and president of the
University of North Carolina Molly Borbett Broad listening to her testimony,
Rosen said 75 percent of all file-sharing on campus networks come from
outside the university community. “Campus systems, with their fast
connections, find themselves hosting total strangers,” she warned.

Dr. John Hale, Center for Computer Security at the University of Tulsa,
was also scheduled to testify before the House Panel.

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