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What Are the Costs of P2P Compliance?

With the signing into law of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 back in August, colleges and universities now face the prospect of providing pro-bono enforcement services for the RIAA and MPAA in their efforts to thwart illegal file sharing. What are the costs of these services to individual campuses? According to a new report issued Monday by the Campus Computing Project, the annual direct, technology-related costs alone range from a low of about $29,000 to a high of about $408,000, depending on the type of institution.

The report, "The Campus Costs of P2P Compliance," covers in some detail the background of the new Higher Education Act legislation and its implications for campuses, breaking down expenses by type of expense and staff time committed to enforcement, all by type of campus--public universities, private universities, etc. What it found was that, on the higher end of the spectrum, private universities spent some $407,784 in academic year 2007-2008 on software licenses ($105,126), hardware costs ($158,714), and other direct costs ($143,944) for controlling piracy on their campuses. Public universities came in second, at $169,882 ($22,482 for software, $64,618 for hardware, and $82,782 for other direct costs).

Public and private bachelor's colleges came in with the lowest direct annual IT expenses attributed to P2P compliance efforts, at $38,660 and $29,171, respectively. Other institutions measured included public master's institutions ($55,002 in annual direct expenses), private master's institutions ($48,574), and public associate degree-granting colleges ($58,482).

The research was based on a survey of 321 two- and four-year colleges and universities conducted this summer.

According to the report, "The data from the summer 2008 P2P survey confirm that compliance with the HEA P2P mandates involves significant costs for the nation's colleges and universities. For some large doctoral institutions, these costs--cash and personnel time--easily exceed half a million dollars annually. From one perspective, these campus expenditures seem to be a significant 'enforcement subsidy' that supports the entertainment industry's efforts to stem digital piracy. In the wake of the new HEA legislation, these P2P compliance expenditures are now a mandated subsidy."

The amount of time campus personnel and legal counsel dedicated to P2P issues varied widely by job type and institution type. The report showed that at public universities, the combined mean time spent on P2P issues by IT personnel (ranging from CIOs and IT managers to IT help desk staff and secretarial support and administration) in academic year 2007-2008 was 778.7 hours. Private universities were right up there as well, at a combined mean of 606.6 hours for all IT personnel. And while IT may incur the bulk of the burden of time in these compliance activities, other departments are also impacted, from student affairs to administrators to legal counsel.

And, what's more, both the financial costs and costs in time spent enforcing P2P policies are expected to grow.

"In aggregate and over time," the report said, "there's little question that for most institutions, P2P compliance will consume more dollars from campus budgets and more hours from campus personnel."

The complete report, which includes extensive analysis background, and breakdowns of financial figures and personnel figures, can be downloaded in PDF format here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .

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