A pair of key lawmakers want Congress' investigative arm to examine major colleges and universities' efforts to stop Internet piracy that originates on campuses nationwide.


WASHINGTON, D.C. (The Hollywood Reporter) -- A pair of key lawmakers want Congress' investigative arm to examine major colleges and universities' efforts to stop Internet piracy that originates on campuses nationwide.

Reps. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Howard Berman, D-Calif., plan to ask the General Accounting Office to "rate" institutions of higher learning on their commitment to copyright protection.

Smith, the chairman of the House's copyright panel, and Berman, the panel's senior Democrat, want to get a better handle on what universities and colleges are doing to combat piracy. Campuses, with their high-speed networks and music-conscious students, have become piracy hot spots.

"I don't know if they'll get a letter grade or some other rating," Smith said during a hearing examining university response to copyright theft. "But I want to quantify that progress."

Many universities nationwide have instituted programs designed to counter copyright piracy. The programs include developing codes of conduct, offering legal services and punishing offenders.

While the copyright industries and the entertainment industry have been cooperating on ways to combat piracy, most admit there is still a long way to go.

According to the report delivered to Congress on Sept. 21 by the Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities, 670,000 students on more than 70 campuses have access to legitimate services through their universities and colleges. By contrast, the Chronicle of Higher Education estimates that there are more than 17 million college students enrolled nationwide.

The report also identified a number of problems that need to be addressed: Student-run file-sharing systems on schools' local area networks, as well as the increased use of unauthorized hacks of the legitimate online service iTunes, are emerging as significant problems.

Entertainment industry executives said the threat of a GAO study could help spur lagging institutions to step up their efforts. Being identified as a copyright laggard would be a black eye for those institutions, the officials said.

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