Schools Risk Losing Funds for Tolerating Piracy

Copyright infringers can’t seem to catch a break this week, thankfully. As noted in the previous post, the government successfully launched an initiative that closed nine websites notorious for trafficking stolen movies. Just as important, new policies are being enacted to curb internet piracy on college campuses. Now, schools that don’t implement anti-piracy provisions risk losing money for federal student aid.

The provisions result from the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which states that schools must enact plans to, “ effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by users of the institution’s network.”

The new rules will make a huge impact in fighting illegal downloading, because college age students makeup the largest demographic of internet pirates. According to a study commissioned by the MPA, “The typical pirate is age 16-24…” and “44 percent of MPA company losses in the U.S. are attributable to college students.” Cheryl Asper Elzy, Dean of University Libraries at Illinois State University, found that more than 50% of dorm residents with broadband connections have illegally downloaded copyrighted material. Furthermore, the House Committee on Science and Technology found that, “In 2006, some 1.3 billion music tracks were downloaded illegally in the U.S. by college students, compared with approximately 500 million legal downloads.”

Yet, there is hope for the younger generation. In the same study, Dean Elzy found that most students will stop downloading illegally if warned or threatened by their school. Stricter anti-piracy laws do work. They can save thousands of jobs a year and protect whole businesses from going bankrupt. It is imperative to remain vigilant when it comes to copyright infringement. For the sake of the economy, we can’t afford not to.