File-Sharing Bill Harmful to Colleges and Universities
October 17, 2007
A bill introduced by Republican members of the House Committee on Education and Labor addresses illegal file sharing on campus. The proposed legislation contains harmful provisions affecting higher education institutions. Strongly pushed by the recording and motion picture industry associations, H.R. 3746 would require institutions to adopt technological steps to block file sharing. At the same time, the industry has not reached consensus on the existing technology that can achieve this effectively.
The bill, the College Access and Opportunity Act of 2007, was co-sponsored by representatives Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-CA) and Ric Keller (R-FL) and includes provisions that:
- give the Secretary of Education an unprecedented amount of authority over an area (copyright infringement) in which the department has neither expertise nor jurisidiction;
- enables the entertainment industry to shape and define the government mandates related to illegal file sharing;
- requires institutions to adopt technological measures to block allegedly illegal file sharing;
- links compliance with the law to the institution's eligibility for Title IV student aid; and
- singles out colleges and universities. While the majority of illegal file sharing occurs on commercial networks, HR 3746 ignores commercial Internet service providers.
It is unclear whether the bill will move forward in the House this year, however, the entertainment industry will continue to actively lobby for adoption of these measures.
It's important for members of Congress to hear from colleges and universities on this measure. To find out what you can do and which representatives should be contacted, refer to EDUCAUSE's call to action. EDUCAUSE has also prepared background materials and talking points to help institutions understand the bill's impact as well as craft messages to their congressional contacts.
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