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CA Assembly Committee Looks into High Number of Music Piracy Complaints at State Schools

RIAA Presents Data Showing Problem is Widespread Throughout the State

Sacramento – California colleges and universities rank among the highest in the nation for the number of pre-litigation letters and copyright infringement notices they have received for music piracy via illegal peer to peer (P2P) file sharing, according to testimony before the California Assembly’s Committee on Higher Education.

At an informational hearing convened by Chairman Anthony Portantino (D-Pasadena), the committee heard testimony about the damage music piracy causes to California’s important music industry in terms of jobs and revenue. “As entertainment capitol of the world, this state has more to lose than any other,” said Mitch Glazier, Executive Vice President, Government and Industry Relations for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). “An Institute for Policy Innovation study indicates that, but for piracy, the state of California would employ 21,227 more workers, which translates into more than $930 million in wages annually.”

College and university students are a big part of the problem, Glazier added, including right here in California. During the current 2007-08 academic year alone, the RIAA has sent 681 pre-litigation notices and 4,045 DMCA copyright infringement notices to California schools.

“This problem belongs to the schools as well,” Glazier told the committee. “It’s their bandwidth that’s being abused. Intellectual property is vital to them – to their revenues, to their curriculum, to their culture of thought and discovery.”

Through the use of education, enforcement and technical measures, a number of schools across the country have made strides in addressing the problem. At the hearing, an official from the University of Florida testified that by implementing technological measures, the school saved more than $1 million on network management costs after experiencing a significant decrease in illicit p2p use which had formerly consumed the overwhelming majority of the university’s bandwidth.

“In the end, we have two duties as educators regarding the data connections we provide to students,” Norbert W. Dunkel, Director of Housing and Residence Education at the University of Florida told the committee in reviewing the success of the school’s efforts. “First, we have a duty to educate our students as to the acceptable use of their computer and the network. Second, we have a duty to be good stewards in maintaining the technological infrastructure that we provide students.”

Glazier pointed out that while there are a variety of options universities can implement to curb illegal file sharing – as well as legal online music alternatives – many universities, including many in California, have yet to act “to exercise moral leadership.”

“Some universities in California offer legal music services or have implemented blocking or filtering technologies in order to protect the integrity of their networks,” Glazier pointed out. “But, the number is small compared to the total number of campuses in the state.”

Equally important to its enforcement efforts, the RIAA has undertaken number of collaborative initiatives designed to offer university administrators tools to most effectively minimize incidences of online theft and educate students about federal copyright laws. Along with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the RIAA offers schools a jointly-produced best practices guide to serve as a helpful roadmap for universities looking to effectively address the problem of campus digital theft. Additionally, the RIAA offers an educational DVD on music downloading for campus orientation seminars (www.campusdownloading.com) and continues to actively serve on the congressionally-approved Joint Committee on Higher Education and Entertainment, a group of university and entertainment officials that works to develop inter-industry approaches to the mutual problem of online copyright theft.

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The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi-Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

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