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Congress Passes Law To Prevent Piracy On Campus

The Higher Education Opportunity Act requires universities and colleges to create plans to prevent piracy by using technology and to present legal alternatives.

Congress this week passed a law to help curb piracy on college campuses.

The Higher Education Opportunity Act, passed Wednesday by the House and Thursday by the Senate, promotes education, legal alternatives, and improved monitoring of campus networks.

If signed into law by President George W. Bush, the bipartisan bill would require publicly funded universities and colleges to teach students and employees about illegal downloading, distribution of copyrighted materials, and related campus policies.

The bill also requires universities and colleges to create plans to prevent piracy by using technology and to present legal alternatives. The bill would provide grants to support those efforts.

The Copyright Alliance and the National Music Publishers' Association praised the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for passing the bill.

The bill would "ultimately help ensure that the high-quality, good-paying jobs in the creative industries that many college graduates hope to one day attain are more abundantly available," said Patrick Ross, executive director of Copyright Alliance.

"We hold universities and their administrations in high regard and know they are focused on one of our nation's highest missions: education of our young people," he said. "Thus we are pleased this legislation addresses the serious issue of piracy on campus networks without placing undue burdens on our higher education system."

He called the bill a "reasoned, education-focused approach."

David Israelite, president and CEO of NMPA, called the bill "an enormous step forward in addressing the problem of illegal downloading on campus networks." He said the bill recognizes that the best way to address the problem is through cooperation among universities, technology, and legal content providers.

The Motion Picture Association of America claims peer-to-peer Internet piracy costs its member studios $3.8 billion a year, with losses from Internet piracy surpassing $2.3 billion. The Recording Industry Association of America cites an Institute for Policy Innovation study that concludes global music piracy causes $12.5 billion in economic losses every year.

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