ACRL Responds to Recording Industry Letter

In a letter to college presidents from the heads of the Motion Picture Association of America, the National Music Publishers' Association, the Recording Industry Association of America, and the Songwriters Guild of America, these organizations asked college presidents to exercise "leadership in addressing student piracy on your network." According to an October 25, 2002 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, the letter stated that "colleges should inform students about the proper use of copyrighted materials, specify the permissible use of the campus network, monitor compliance with that policy, and 'impose effective remedies against violators.'"

Another letter was sent to college presidents from the leaders of six major higher-education organizations. This letter also asked the "colleges to take steps to stop the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials, like songs and motion pictures, through college computer networks."

On November 6, the Electronic Privacy Information Council (EPIC) sent an open letter to college and university presidents, acknowledging the rights of copyright holders but asking the higher education administrators to recognize also the rights of the public. Specifically, EPIC focuses on the fact that the constraints that the industries wish to place on the use of electronic data far exceed the constraints placed upon print media.

In response to these letters, ACRL has sent a letter to all academic library directors informing them of these letters and of ACRL's position on this issue. In the letter, it is stated that ACRL agrees "that peer-to-peer networking file sharing is a campus problem that, along with facilitating the distribution of unauthorized copies of copyrighted work, uses valuable bandwidth and affects overall campus network operations," but ACRL disagrees "with the implication that all file-sharing activities are infringements of copyright that constitute piracy." The letter also states that ACRL believes "that any discussion of this subject must acknowledge that rights of users of copyrighted materials form the basis for the balance of copyright law." The letter urges "librarians to help advise college and university administrators on copyright policy."