- The leaders of six major higher-education organizations are asking the presidents of all American colleges to take steps to stop illegal distribution of copyrighted materials, such as songs and motion pictures, through college computer networks.
“Digital file sharing technology has made it easier than ever before for individuals to make and share a large number of unauthorized copies of creative works (particularly music and movies) without regard to or consideration of the rights of the copyright owners,” the six wrote in a letter to the college presidents, which is dated Tuesday and will be mailed in the next several days. “Unfortunately, in some cases, college and university computer systems are being misused as servers to distribute such unauthorized copies worldwide.”
The letter was signed by the presidents of the American Association of Community Colleges, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the American Council on Education, the Association of American Universities, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.
The issue centers on the use, principally by students, of a variety of programs to download digitized music and movie files, or to share those files with others. The music and motion-picture industries, and some artists, complain that such practices infringe on their copyrights. Meanwhile, the constant transferring of large numbers of bulky audio and video files can swamp college networks, hobbling other users.
The Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America are preparing their own letter to college presidents, requesting a halt to illegal downloads. The text of that letter was not immediately available.
“We share their concern about the use of campus computer networks for inappropriate file sharing,” the six higher-education officials wrote in their letter.
The education organizations’ letter was motivated, in part, by a “collective concern about potential legal liability for copyright infringement,” said Sheldon E. Steinbach, vice president and general counsel for the American Council on Education….