Online piracy bill could be major burden for colleges

Hill pointed to a recent controversy at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where the school’s “swikis”—sites used by students for coursework—were shut down after a single complaint from a student who said his name was included on a course site.

“As drafted, SOPA could have a major impact on institutions using any form of educational technology to share content outside of a tightly-controlled, password-protected course site,” Hill said. “It is not hard to see how SOPA could create a minefield of potential legal actions, resulting in multiple institutions using their interpretations of the law … to stifle innovation, particularly around sharing of content and general collaboration.”

Web giants, including Google, AOL, Facebook, and Twitter, publicly aired opposition to SOPA in a Nov. 17 full-page advertisement in the New York Times. Google officials have told Congressional subcommittees in recent months that the federal government should not require internet service providers to shut off access to websites that violate the piracy law.

The technology companies wrote an open letter to members of Congress Nov. 15 that charged SOPA would dismantle a part of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act that guarantees “safe harbor” for ISPs that put forth good-faith efforts to remove any content that violates copyright laws.

“…We should not jeopardize a foundational structure that has worked for content owners and internet companies alike and provides certainty to innovators with new ideas for how people … share information lawfully online,” the letter said.

“We cannot support these bills as written and ask that you consider more targeted ways to combat foreign ‘rogue’ websites dedicated to copyright infringement and trademark counterfeiting, while preserving the innovation and dynamism that has made the internet such an important driver of economic growth and job creation,” the companies wrote.

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