RIAA proclaims 'sea change' at universities.

The co-chairmen of a joint committee designed to address illegal file-sharing on college campuses announced today (Aug. 24) that they are pleased with efforts over the past year to stem the problem and will submit a requested report outlining the progress to Congress.

The Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities is co-chaired by Cary Sherman, president of the RIAA, and Graham Spanier, president of Pennsylvania State University (PSU). The committee -- formed two years ago to develop collaborative solutions to address illegal file-sharing at colleges and universities -- comprises education leaders and music and motion-picture executives.

The report will be submitted to the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property. It was requested by subcommittee chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas.

"Compared to the beginning of last year's school session, there has been a sea change in the university digital music landscape," Sherman said during a teleconference with reporters today. "What a difference a year makes. New partnerships between legal music services and universities are beginning to proliferate, and schools are moving to get a technological handle on bandwidth-clogging file-sharing networks. We still have our work cut out for us, but this past year has shown real promise and progress."

Sherman said there are now programs to provide students with legitimate online services at 20 universities and colleges. He expects other schools to move forward with similar programs now, after taking a "wait and see" approach.

Spanier said the Napster service at PSU "has become popular," and that he has seen a significant decrease in P2P use and the need for the university to pay for external bandwidth. Spanier explained that at most schools, the new services are wrapped up in an overall IT fee and cost students nothing additional unless they want to download tracks.