Hollywood on Monday took its fight against online piracy at colleges to the spring meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General in Washington, arguing that the state universities the lawyers represent should play an important role in the battle.
Former Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), the Motion Picture Association of America's chairman and chief executive officer, and Richard Cotton, NBCUniversal Media LLC executive vice president and general counsel, told the attorneys generals that universities must educate students about the consequences of intellectual property theft. The offense is not "a nuisance crime," Cotton said.
“We need to engage them in our effort to ensure that the Internet remains a free and open cornerstone of innovation in our business,” Dodd said. “Young people are key consumers of our content online, and we want to ensure that they can continue to legally watch the shows and movies they love in a whole host of different formats online.”
In 2008, Congress passed the Higher Education Opportunities Act, which requires universities to take steps intended to reduce online piracy at colleges. Under the law, universities must inform students about intellectual property law and university policies on copyright theft, have a plan to fight online piracy on campus and develop substitutes to illegal downloading.
Joseph Storch, State University of New York associate general counsel, and Larry Conrad, University of North Carolina information technology vice chancellor and chief information officer, said at the meeting that their colleges are working to reduce online copyright theft. But the university officials said cost-effective alternatives to downloading pirated movies and music are difficult to find.
Storch said he has met with NBC executives – including Cotton – to find ways for universities to fight online piracy. But he called on state attorneys general to work with them on solutions to the problem and help advance intellectual property law as society changes.
“Higher education and the entertainment industry can partner in exciting and innovative ways to protect intellectual property while providing the myriad legal and appropriately priced options to our students,” Storch said. “You, as the chief law enforcement officers, have a role to play in assisting and encouraging such advancement.”