Five Congressional leaders yesterday sent letters and surveys to the 20 universities with the highest number of copyright infringement notices for
illegal downloading. If the responses show that the universities are not doing enough to prevent piracy, legislation to force action is on the horizon.

The letter stated the leaders' concern that the institution had been identified by the RIAA and the Motion Picture Assn. of America as one of the top 10 schools in receipt of the highest number of notices of infringement during the most recent reporting period. This was "a troubling indication that authorized users of your university computer networks routinely utilize your facilities to engage in the theft of copyrighted works," the leaders wrote. Being included on the lists also indicated that the institution "may need to act urgently to improve elements of its education, enforcement and technology programs."

The letters were signed by Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith,
R-Tex.; Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Calif., and
Ranking Member Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif.; and Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property Chairman Howard Berman,
D-Calif., and Ranking Member Howard Coble, R-N.C.

The were sent to Columbia, Pennsylvania, Boston University, UCLA, Purdue,
Vanderbilt, Duke, Rochester Institute of Technology, Massachusetts-Boston,
Michigan, Ohio U., Nebraska-Lincoln, Tennessee, South Carolina, Massachusetts-Amherst, Michigan State, Howard, North Carolina State, and

The institutions have until May 31 to provide "full and complete" written responses to a six-page survey covering their acceptable use policies for their computers and networks, anti-piracy enforcement activities, technology and promotion of legitimate alternative sources for copyrighted materials.

"We want to know exactly what they plan to do to stop illegal downloading on
their campuses," says Smith.

"My hope is that in six months from now, these same universities will no longer be on the list," says Berman.

The letter lists four studies, highlighting that:

* 44% of the domestic piracy losses suffered by the U.S. motion picture
industry -- more than half a billion dollars annually -- is attributed to
college students;
* More than half of all college students download music and movies
* College students reported that more than 2/3 of all music they acquired
was illegally obtained; and
* College students were responsible for more than 1.3 billion illegal music
downloads in 2006, and college students disproportionately used P2P networks
to download unauthorized music files.

The letter also highlighted that the $6.1 billion loss endured for 2005 by the U.S. movie industry equals a loss of $20 billion in GDP, 141,000 jobs and $835 million in tax revenue. "The jobs lost tend to be positions that pay substantially more than average, and in fact, represent precisely the types of opportunities that those with an advanced education may wish to seek after graduating," the leaders wrote.

"There is bipartisan agreement that if we do not receive acceptable answers,
Congress will be forced to act," says Smith.