PRESIDENT, RECORDING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION OF
SUBCOMMITTEE ON COURTS, THE INTERNET, AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
UNITED STATED HOUSE OF REPRESENATIVES
PEER-TO-PEER (P2P) PIRACY ON UNIVERSITY CAMPUSES: AN UPDATE
Chairman Smith, Ranking Democratic Member Berman, and Members of the Subcommittee, I appreciate this opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee today to continue our ongoing discussion of P2P piracy on campus. In particular, I gratefully acknowledge the Subcommittee’s steadfast commitment to this subject, as evidenced by the fact that it was the subject of the very first hearing held in this Subcommittee this Congress. The work of this Subcommittee has been invaluable in helping us convey the message that illegal downloading on college campuses – or anywhere else – is simply not acceptable.
This past month, schools across the country have welcomed students back to a continuously evolving environment. With a casual walk across campus, it is impossible to miss the iPods and other portable music devices; with a quick visit to any dorm room, you will discover the stacks of CDs or the computers full of mp3s. Music collection and enjoyment remains a favorite pastime for students. Unfortunately, so does piracy.
We’ve been doing our part to address this issue. For instance, the Campus Action Network (CAN), a program led by Sony BMG and supported by other record companies, has worked to encourage and facilitate the launch of legitimate music services on campuses across the country. These services are made possible by the specialized packages and greatly discounted rates provided by the entertainment industry. The motion picture industry has also instituted a program to work with schools to address P2P piracy on campus. We are working hard to find new ways to provide the entertainment products students want and can acquire conveniently and legally. At the same time, we have reminded students that their academic status does not give them a free pass to infringe. Since March of this year, 190 students at 61 universities have been included in a series of lawsuits directed at infringers of copyrighted material on P2P networks. The message has been received loud and clear: responsibility does not wait for graduation.
We are pleased to report that schools have been doing their part as well. There is considerable good news here. As the Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities reported to this subcommittee in August, colleges and universities across the country have become engaged in a variety of initiatives to stem the rampant piracy on their computer networks. Perhaps the most exciting of these initiatives have been the partnerships between schools and legitimate online services I mentioned earlier. These agreements, jump-started by the success of a landmark deal between the now-legitimate Napster and Penn State University, have enabled college and university administrations to offer their students access to the music they desire—and, indeed, often demand—while ensuring the responsible, safe, and economic use of their network resources. To date, 25 schools have reported signing with legitimate services such as Napster, Cdigix, RealNetworks, MusicRebellion, Ruckus, and iTunes to distribute content legally and efficiently. And interest is growing exponentially. We have seen the formation of school task forces, and even student groups, to consider whether a campus-based online service is best for them. Student papers have carried editorials eagerly requesting such services at their schools. Schools have also worked to find new uses for these services, such as offering streaming and downloadable content to augment their curriculum.
The installation of these services on campuses has helped to
reduce network congestion, decrease infringements, and maintain the security
and integrity of the system. Schools
have also turned to other technological means to curtail improper use of their
networks. In addition to traditional
bandwidth shaping and limits, new systems and devices are being used across the
Of course, education remains a fundamental component of any school’s fight against P2P piracy. Recognizing their unique position to prepare students for the opportunities and responsibilities of adulthood, institutions across the country have undertaken various initiatives to inform students about copyright laws and the appropriate use of computer networks. Emails and letters have been sent to school communities by presidents and deans; tutorials and quizzes have been designed to ensure compliance with policies, laws, and standards; notices, posters, and fliers have been distributed; discussions, presentations, and courses have been held; skits, videos, and other entertaining informative pieces have been made. More and more students are not only getting the message that using their schools’ resources to engage in illegal conduct is wrong, they are learning why. Copyrighted works have value and theft of these works does, indeed, cause harm. Importantly, it is this knowledge that students carry with them and apply after graduation.
Finally, messages are hitting home through enforcement. Violations of schools’ acceptable use policies regularly carry penalties, and abuses of schools’ computer networks are no exception. Students are increasingly aware of the frequently tiered courses of action taken after incidents of online infringement. First violations often carry warnings and brief denials of network access. Second violations often increase penalties to extended denials of network access, referrals to the Dean, and probation. Third violations, while rare, can often lead to permanent removal from the network, suspension, or, in extreme cases, even expulsion.
The combined effects of these initiatives—legitimate services, technology, education, and enforcement—have resulted in a positive change in the attitudes and responses of administrations and students.
However, with the good news comes the distinct reminder that we are not in the clear. College and university campuses remain a hotbed for piracy. Students, with limited budgets and, perhaps, misguided senses of entitlement, can unfortunately still find a treasure trove of valuable and free copyrighted works available over extremely fast and convenient computer networks.
In fact, the speed of these networks has created new challenges for copyright owners. Internet 2, a consortium of schools, industry, and government, is an exciting platform for advanced network applications and technologies. Yet, as with other networks, bad actors have begun to hijack it, threatening to turn a beneficial and promising technology into a tool for piracy. Already, P2P systems, such as i2hub, have been set up on Internet 2, facilitating the abuse of advanced networking technology to illegally distribute copyrighted works for free. The speed of these networks—up to thousands of times faster than ordinary Internet networks—allows users to obtain copyrighted movies in minutes and music in seconds. Further, the closed nature of these networks, being available only to those engaged in academia, makes it more difficult for copyright owners to protect their works and to notify responsible parties of their infringement.
The naturally high speeds of college and university networks has also allowed students to set up local area networks—or LANs—to connect with others solely within their individual schools. The RIAA brought suit last year against the student operators of four such networks, who had effectively used their school’s resources to create “mini-P2P networks” to facilitate the mass piracy of copyrighted works on their campuses. As with Internet 2, the closed nature of these LANs makes it difficult to discover such misuse. College and university administrations are in the best position to determine the pervasiveness of this LAN-based piracy, and to take action to stop it.
School administrations have been working hard to bring users of their computer networks into compliance with proper standards, laws, and acceptable use policies. But it is imperative that they do not allow loopholes in their rules and enforcement. Restrictions placed on standard Internet use should be clearly extended to new and evolving opportunities such as Internet 2 and LANs. The vigilance with which administrators ensure the integrity of their systems must continue through the introduction of these new services and technologies.
P2P piracy clearly remains a problem on college and university campuses across the country. And, undoubtedly, challenges lie ahead. Yet, the opportunities for the education and entertainment communities to work together toward a mutually beneficial end have never been as great as they are today. With the multi-pronged approach I’ve discussed here and in the Joint Committee report to this Subcommittee in August, the future looks even brighter. We look forward to continuing our work with all interested parties and to providing increasingly positive reports in the future.