HEOA Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Requirements Compliance

The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), H.R 4137, is a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. It includes requirements for higher education institutions like SCC that are designed to reduce the illegal uploading and downloading of copyrighted works through peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing, such as might happen on a college campus. These requirements include the following:

  • Institutions make an annual disclosure that informs students that the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials may subject them to criminal and civil penalties and describes the steps that institutions will take to detect and punish illegal distribution of copyrighted materials.
  • Institutions certify to the Secretary of Education that they have developed plans to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material.
  • Institutions, to the extent practicable, offer alternatives to illegal file sharing.
  • Institutions identify procedures for periodically reviewing the effectiveness of the plans to combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials.

Annual Disclosure

Although technology can and will be used to help combat illegal sharing of copyrighted material at SCC, the best tool for this is regular and ongoing education of our students, faculty and staff about copyright laws and what uses of copyrighted materials are or are not prohibited. As part of our annual disclosure to this audience about the law and SCC s response to copyright infringement claims, we will use the following methods:

  • All members of the SCC community will agree to a Computer User Agreement before using college computing resources, that includes a section on copyright compliance.
  • Posters will be mounted in student computer labs and elsewhere to discourage illegal file sharing.
  • IT support staff, including student workers, will be trained on the College position related to copyright issues.
  • SCC's policies and procedures concerning the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the College s response to infringement claims are published on the College web site.
  • At the beginning of each fall and spring, all College students, faculty and staff will receive email from the SCC Copyright Office regarding copyright infringement and related issues.
  • The Student Handbook contains information about copyright and illegal file sharing and a link to the College s Copyright Office where additional copyright information is available.
  • Summary of College, Civil and Criminal Penalties
  • Students identified as illegally sharing copyrighted material over the College network, including through the use of e-mail, web pages, and peer-to-peer sharing software, whether using College owned computers or personally owned computers connected to the College network, will be subject to disciplinary action by the College. This disciplinary action, as detailed in the SCC Student Handbook, would fall under the section for Administrative Suspension (p.116).:

An administrative officer may direct the student involved to cease and desist such conduct and advise the student that failing to cease and desist may result in immediate administrative suspension.

The IT Director may also temporarily revoke the student s access to part, or all, of SCC s computer resources, systems and facilities, including the portal, Blackboard, Class Sites, computer labs,etc., pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing on the charge(s).

Students may also be subject to civil and criminal liabilities. A summary of the civil and criminal penalties for violation of Federal copyright laws is as follows:

  • Infringer pays the actual dollar amount of damages and profits; or
  • The law provides a range from $750 to $30,000 for each work infringed, unless the court finds that the infringement was willful. In such cases, the maximum penalty is increased to $150,000.
  • The court may award attorneys fees and court costs.
  • The court can issue an injunction to stop the infringing acts.
  • The court can impound the illegal works.
  • The infringer can be sent to jail for up to 10 years.
  • Plans to Effectively Combat the Unauthorized Distribution of Copyrighted Material

We currently employ technology to prioritize network traffic and limit the amount of bandwidth available to P2P applications. Internet usage is monitored. Downloading of files is heavily monitored, logged and often blocked. The IT department reserves the right to block any web sites that are not required to meet the college s need to conduct its educational and business needs.

We constantly look for more effective, powerful systems and technologies to use to more effectively combat illegal distribution of copyrighted materials, including illegal file sharing.

Respect for copyright is an important aspect of academic activity and all parts of the SCC community, including students, faculty and staff, should understand what uses of copyrighted material are legal and which are not.

Alternatives to Illegal File Sharing

Educause maintains a comprehensive list of Legal Downloading Resources. Members of the Spartanburg Community College community are encouraged to take advantage of these legitimate sources of digital content. The college does allow access to these legitimate sources but reserves the right to limit bandwidth available when necessary to support its other educational and business needs.

Reviewing Effectiveness

SCC has not received any peer to peer file sharing takedown notices. We will continue to monitor these notices to watch for unexpected increases that would require additional measures. Each spring we will also survey our students, faculty and staff to gauge our copyright education efforts and make adjustments based on their feedback.