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Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Music Industry to Congress: Time for Universities to Exercise Leadership

A President Delivers Congressional Testimony, Urges Administrators to Assume More Responsibility in Face of Persistent File-Sharing Problem

Testifying before Congress, the president of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) today voiced concern about the passive attitude reflected by many of the nation?s colleges and universities in addressing illegal file-sharing on campus. While recent surveys indicate that more than half of the nation?s college students frequently download music and movies illegally, Sherman said an unfortunate number of university administrators tend to respond insufficiently to the problem.

?We have found that many of them resist taking action, or do as little as possible in order to brush off further responsibility,? Sherman said in a testimony prepared for delivery before the Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce. ?This reality is evident in the fact that more than half of students in a recent survey said they weren?t even sure whether illegal downloads were against their college or university?s policies.?

From offering universities a slate of educational tools and guidance, legal services, and an introduction to technologies, Sherman noted the many steps taken by the industry to date. He also recognized the important strides made by the Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities and thanked the many individual institutions that have worked with the industry ?proactively and constructively? to address this problem. Yet he said there is an important role to play for a great many more schools, and he urged them to step up to the plate and exercise moral leadership.

?No administration would teach its students that stealing is okay,? Sherman continued. ?But when a school fails to act, it is teaching. Looking the other way when students engage in illegal activity on its network sends a message ? and it?s the wrong one.?

Sherman also emphasized the importance of technological measures ? the easiest and surest way to reduce online piracy ? as a key part of the equation for addressing this problem. With the implementation of such measures comes a greater uptake by students of legal service offerings, among other benefits, Sherman noted.

Today?s hearing ? the first of its kind before this committee ? was led by Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla.), Chairman, and Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.), Ranking Member.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution recognizing that ?institutions of higher education should adopt policies and educational programs on their campuses to help deter and eliminate illicit copyright infringement occurring on, and encourage educational uses of, their computer systems and networks.?

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