College leaders are nervously watching entertainment-industry groups this week.
As a free article in The Chronicle today notes, college technology officials meeting at a policy conference this week described a move in several state legislatures to pass laws that would force colleges to police their networks for illegal trading of music and video files and to buy software to stem the problem. Officials said the laws were backed by the Recording Industry Association of America and other entertainment-industry groups. But a spokeswoman for the RIAA would neither confirm nor deny that the group is singling out state legislatures.
One of the laws, which was recently enacted in Tennessee, requires colleges that have received 50 or more infringement notices in the past year to “reasonably attempt” to prevent infringement over their networks.
Just as these new measures that use the number of notifications as a trigger are beginning to appear, the RIAA and other groups have suddenly increased the number of notification letters they’re sending to colleges.
In an interview with The Chronicle this week, Cary Sherman, president of the RIAA, insisted there is no connection between the recent spike in notification letters and the group’s lobbying efforts.
“There’s just no connection to anything that’s happening in Congress, in the courts, or anything else,” Mr. Sherman said. He added that the increase in notifications did not mean that there had been a sudden rise in campus piracy. “We’re constantly asking our vendor to improve performance,” of its software that scans for copyright violations online, Mr. Sherman said. “They just completed work on an upgrade and, poof, it just happened.”
Some college officials remain skeptical, and are redoubling their efforts to convince state and federal lawmakers not to back the proposed legislative measures. —Andrea L. Foster and Jeffrey R. Young