Bill forces schools to crack down on filesharing

Congress has moved one step closer to forcing universities to crack down on illegal downloading and filesharing by students.

Friday, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) unveiled his College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007, which contains provisions to:

  •  Direct colleges to inform students and employees about policies and procedures involving illegal downloading and filesharing.

  •  Require colleges to develop plans for alternatives to online bootlegging to be offered students and plans for exploring technology-based bootlegging deterrents.

  •  Authorize the Secretary of Education to award grants to institutions of higher learning for developing piracy prevention and education programs.

The bill will be companion to similar legislation introduced earlier this year in the Senate.

According to the Motion Picture Assn. of America, almost half the industry’s domestic losses to piracy — estimated at more than $500 million annually — is attributable to college students.

MPAA topper Dan Glickman hailed the House bill, saying in a statement: “Illegal downloading doesn’t just hurt the motion picture and music industries, but it can also be harmful to universities as it puts their systems at risk for security purposes, takes up bandwidth, and slows systems that are designed for research and other educational purposes.”

The bill, which focuses on rising tuition costs, must first be approved by the House Education and Labor Committee, which Miller chairs. The committee plans a mark-up on the bill later this week.

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