US Congress Passes Anti-Campus File-sharing Requirements

Despite a massive error in the MPAAs college campus piracy study revealed nearly three weeks ago, it appears that the US congress has passed an another pair of anti-filesharing provisions tucked into a college funding bill and it is now going to the senate.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

ZeroPaid has already reported on the MPAAs error in a 2005 and also reported on the fact that the MPAA isn’t backing off of its attack. Despite faulty numbers, the congress in the house has passed the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 which contains the “Campus Digital Theft Prevention” requirement.

Interestingly enough, there is currently two versions of this act. There is the version introduced (H.R.4137.IH) in the house and one that was reported (H.R.4137.RH) in the house. The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has reported that the senates version does not have the “Campus Digital Theft Prevention” requirement while the version that passed in congress has the requirement.

“The House and the Senate must meet “in conference” to reconcile differences in their respective versions of the same college funding bill, and the Senate’s version of the COAA does not contain the mandate for exploring alternative downloading services and network filters.” The EFF explained, “There’s still a chance that members of Congress involved in the conference process will see through the smoke and mirrors to stand up for students and universities in rejecting this unnecessary and dangerous mandate.”

“Short of appointing a copyright hall monitor for every dorm room,” The EFF commented earlier in The Washington Post, “there is no way digital copying will be meaningfully reduced. Technical efforts to block file-sharing will be met with clever countermeasures from sharp computer science majors. Even if students were completely cut off from the Internet, they would continue to copy CDs, swap hard drives and pool their laptops.”

Effectively speaking, the requirement has two provisions: the first is to block “unauthorized” traffic and the other provision gets colleges to push students to use “authorized” services like iTunes.

“Intellectual property theft costs over 140,000 American jobs each year — a significant loss in this volatile economy,” Dan Glickman, chairman of the MPAA told The Holleywood Reporter, “We are pleased that Congress is taking this important step toward helping us find ways to curb intellectual property theft on college campuses.”

While not in law yet, it’ll be interesting to see how the bill fairs in the senate, particularly when there is, in fact, two versions with big differences.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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