Some Boston University students and a computer science professor say illegal filesharing will remain prevalent on campus even if a bill is passed that would cut federal aid to students at universities that do not implement anti-sharing technology.
The bill – proposed Oct. 4 by the House Committee on Education and Labor – addresses many ways to assist students from lower- and middle-class families trying to afford college, but also includes a clause about potential aid cuts to BU and other colleges that have received more than 100 letters admonishing illegal filesharing.
Entitled the College Access and Opportunity bill, proposed by U.S. Reps. Ric Keller (R-Fla.) and Howard McKeon (R-Calif.), the legislation would require universities with the most cited illegal downloading in the past year to provide proof to the secretary of education that they are preventing further acts of piracy.
The specific clause states if schools do not find a way to prevent illegal filesharing, their federal aid will be removed. However, a BU professor who has testified as an expert witness in filesharing cases, says these anti-piracy technologies are not the answer to downloading problems.
“You can’t expect BU to break the law,” said Azer Bestavros, a computer science professor. “[We] and every university will have to follow it [if it passes].”
Objection to this type of bill was already voiced in July when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) proposed a similar bill, but withdrew it after he received negative comments from universities across the country.
About half of BU’s students relies on financial aid for their education, said BU spokesman Colin Riley.
Many students said the bill’s efforts to connect between financial aid and filesharing is unfounded, making the bill unreasonable.
“The two are so unrelated,” said School of Education sophomore Kayla Zeisler. “They could have arbitrarily picked something else, such as a stricter alcohol policy. No matter what you, do these things are going to happen.”